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Galveston: A Novel Hardcover – June 15, 2010

4.2 out of 5 stars 423 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Pizzolatto, author of the story collection Between Here and the Yellow Sea, takes a hard-edged look at the stormy life of a compassionate criminal in his impressive first novel. On the same day in 1987 he's diagnosed with lung cancer, Roy Cady flees New Orleans, taking along Raquel Rocky Arceneaux, a pretty 18-year-old with a lurid past, whom he rescues from some hoods in the wake of a bloodbath. Rocky persuades him to stop in Orange, Tex., to pick up Tiffany, her three-year-old sister, and by the time they reach refuge in a rundown Galveston motel, 40-year-old Roy finds himself an unlikely father figure even as he struggles with a romantic attraction to Rocky. Pizzolatto's insightful portrayal of the heroic Roy, who takes a beating for trying to help the two girls, is rough and tumble real. As Pizzolatto switches smoothly between past and present, he vividly captures Galveston in all its desperate vulnerability as it faces the approach of Hurricane Ike in September 2008. (June)
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From Booklist

Pizzolatto, author of the short story collection Between Here and the Yellow Sea (2006), delivers a taut first novel suffused with a strong noir sensibility. Roy Cady is working as a strong-arm man for a low-level New Orleans gangster when two events change his life: he’s diagnosed with terminal cancer, and his boss puts out a hit on him. Soon enough, Roy and a young prostitute, Rocky—thrown together after a blood-spattered encounter with the would-be hit men—are on the run, traveling from New Orleans to Galveston. “Nothing ends well,” Roy muses at one point, and, of course, we know from the start that this road trip is on a collision course with disaster. The inevitable downward arc of all noir can bring a certain dreary sameness to the proceedings, especially if the writer paints his disasters by the numbers, but Pizzolatto builds tension by moving back and forth in time: we know it all goes bad, but we don’t know how. Add to that a writer with a real feel for the special poetry of noir, and you have a fine crime-fiction debut. --Bill Ott
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; First Edition edition (June 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439166641
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439166642
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (423 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #795,675 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Galveston is exceptionally well-written, a Southern noir that takes recognizable genre types (the tough, smart mob enforcer and the spirited young woman) and plows deep, deep, deep into their psyches and souls. Roy Cady, the narrator and main character, is pretty much a triumphant creation; he knows that his strengths and his weaknesses are more acute than the typical, assimilated dude, and he is fully aware of the harm he can inflict, but he also seems to hit upon wells of compassion and bravery that are both surprising and completely earned. And his voice is an uncompromising wonder.

One reviewer here calls Galveston a redemption tale, but I think that may be putting too sunny a spin; there is no promise that the possible redemption offered has been worth the costs paid (a tour of the Inferno, with glimpses at Purgatory). It is more a novel about seemingly marginal individuals clawing tooth and nail for their humanity, and the world (and, quite often, their own instincts) fighting them at every step. There's a cinematic clarity, and an irresistibly dark pull, to the narrative, and the language often sings out with the sort of violent, seemingly off-hand vernacular poetry of a Denis Johnson or a Roberto Bolano (minus his post-Beat mannerisms).

Recommended for folks interested in noir novels that not only satisfy your itch for genre strengths like expert plotting and unceasing atmospherics, but that may also exceed your expectations in terms of characterization and depth of feeling.
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Format: Hardcover
"Galveston" is a first-rate page-turner, and, thank god, not for any cheap manipulations or torn from the headlines hooks, but for characters I can relate to -- emotionally, at least -- who are yanked relentlessly and often brutally into situations I can not relate to -- physically, at least. (What a concept -- a novel with characterization worthy of a "literary hit" and a plot worthy of the crime genre's masters!) What can be said except that Roy Cady escaped Springsteen's "Nebraska" album; thankfully, he found a home in Nic Pizzolatto's first novel.

Once you've finished, Pizzolatto's craftsmanship truly hits you -- his structure renders any melodramatics moot and lets you focus on the human journey, the human costs on Roy, Rocky, and Tiffany (in other words, he makes sure that you're turning this page-turner's pages for the right reasons); his sense of place and time is annoyingly pinpoint, as my shoulders stung from sunburns I did not have and my feet itched with sand that wasn't between my toes; and his language is a miracle, romantically honest (though this won't be a surprise for fans of his short story collection).

Incredible stuff here. Don't miss out.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Brief: Good for a modern noir but it always left me wanting more. Solid storytelling but it was a well-trodden motif with no new angles or innovative character developments. The characters were essentially one-dimensional personalities -- something Pizzolatto seemed to have corrected in his latest work. The end -- the major plot points -- were fairly easy to suss out. All in all, it was a good, quick read, but the archetypes were obvious and stayed true to noir form. If you were expecting True Detective, this isn't it. Although, years down the line, it could show a baseline that will only show Pizzolatto's true brilliance. He is growing into his new writing style with his recent work for HBO. Evidence of TD's philosophy and vivid scene descriptions are there, albeit meekly.

Regardless, it was entertaining and I look forward to TD's conclusion and it's further iterations.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Nic Pizzolatto is best known as the creator of True Detective, the brilliant HBO crime series. In addition to being a superb writer he is an excellent commentator on his own work and on crime writing in general. Don’t miss that commentary in the subsidiary material accompanying the True Detective dvd’s and don’t miss the video clip of him discussing Galveston on the Amazon site.

Galveston is the story of Roy Cady, a troubled man who serves a local hood in New Orleans (one of a series of such hoods). Suddenly two things hit him hard: his boss decides to take him out and he is simultaneously diagnosed with lung cancer. He leaves New Orleans with an 18 year-old and heads for a cheap motel in Galveston. Along the way they pick up the woman’s younger sister.

(Not to get sidetracked, but the depiction of the motel and its various tenants is nothing short of inspired. They don’t have a restaurant, but the proprietor’s estranged husband has a grill and he cooks sausages in the morning and burgers in the evening. Breakfast is two sausages, without juice, coffee, tea, fruit, eggs or toast, and the tenants gobble them up.)

While Roy tries to escape his past and forestall his future, the eighteen year-old, Raquel/Rocky does the same. We know that they are not entirely successful, because the story is told in different time levels. Suddenly, e.g., Roy is wearing an eye patch. Why? While we know that he has escaped a worse fate we are being told that all has not been well. The strains of noir run very deep here; this is very strong material and while the mixed time levels offer some mitigation and consolation we realize as the narrative proceeds that we will need a great deal of both.
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