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That's How I Roll: A Novel by [Vachss, Andrew]
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That's How I Roll: A Novel Kindle Edition

3.9 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Length: 224 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews


"It's brutal, grindhouse and poetic. Vachss nails reality to the walls of truth, using fiction to portray his hard-chewed philosophy of life ... a writer to admire, one that does not shun from showing a world with all of its ugly flaws." - LitReactor

"One can count on Vachss being grim whether writing one of his Burke novels or a stand-alone like The Weight, but this ... is grimmer than most. ... Crafty, strong-willed [narrator Esau Till] combines courtly manners, deadly paybacks, and ruthless singularity of purpose in this chilling tour de force." - Publishers Weekly

"In his latest stand-alone, Vachss, master of hard-boiled fiction, delivers one of his grimmest novels yet." -Booklist

"An absolutely brilliant novel. It reads like a bullet." -Joe R. Lansdale

"That's How I Roll is a noir masterpiece." --Ian O'Doherty, The (Irish) Independent

"This novel could easily be mistaken for a memoir. ... both chilling and realistic." --Laura Schultz, New York Journal of Books 

"Classic, gritty Vachss, who writes prose you can strike a match on." -Mike Ripley, Shots

"Strikingly original ... a sort of loose, episodic confessional that builds the story stone by stone, strewing the landscape with bodies and dispensing folksy wisdom ... A smart, cynical glimpse into the human condition." -Kirkus

“Combines [Vachss’s] trademark black humor with his longstanding concern for children and their well-being. . . . A smart, cynical glimpse into the human condition.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Crafty, strong-willed Esau combines courtly manners, deadly paybacks, and ruthless singularity of purpose in this chilling tour de force.”
 —Publishers Weekly

"Born of a supremely abusive father and his own sister, Esau Till is trouble from day onea hired killer who ends up on death row. This book unfolds as Esau's effort to tell his life story in a bid to protect Tory after his own death. Vachss writes raw, eye-opening works that deserve our attention."
—Library Journal

“Many writers try to cover the same ground as Vachss. A handful are as good. None are better.”
“Writing in a style so sleekly engineered that it purrs when you pop the hood, Vachss gives us such a smooth ride that it’s easy to forget someone is driving this thing.”
The New York Times Book Review
“Vachss’s stories . . . burn with righteous rage and transfer a degree of that rage to the reader.”
The Washington Post Book World
“A contemporary master . . . Decidedly hard-boiled, his prose is lean, tough-edged, and brittle.”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“Vachss’s tough-guy writing style grabs you by the hair and jerks you to attention.”
Detroit Free Press
“Vachss writes hypnotically violent prose made up of equal parts broken concrete blocks and razor wire.”
Chicago Sun-Times

From the Inside Flap

Andrew Vachss returns with a deeply revealing new novel about a master assassin whose love forced him to kill his own conscience.

Esau Till's race is almost run. After pleading guilty to a series of homicides, he sits on death row, awaiting lethal injection. And writing his life story. But his memoir is no case study in tragedy--it's his one last chance to protect his brother Tory after he's gone. And, as too many have learned, when it comes to protecting his baby brother, Esau Till is a man without boundaries.

Esau's father was a widely feared beast who waited until his first girl child was "old enough to bleed" before killing his wife. In Esau's words: "When you're birthed out of your own sister--when her father is your father too--you know you're not going to come out right. Not you, not your life, not nothing."

When the genetic cards were dealt. Esau drew a genius IQ and a horribly crippled body. His brother Tory drew a "slow" mind and almost super-human strength. Very early on, Esau learned that the only way to guarantee his baby brother's safety was to make himself indispensable to certain people. A self-taught explosives expert, he became the top assassin for two rival local mobs. When a third mob attempted to recruit his brother, Esau took them all out, unaware that one of them was an undercover FBI agent.

Execution looms, but no prison can hold Esau's mind. Or his love. As the State prepares to take his life, Esau plots going all-in on the last and most deadly hand he will ever play.

Product Details

  • File Size: 3269 KB
  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard; 1 edition (March 20, 2012)
  • Publication Date: March 20, 2012
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005IQZ8YE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #798,588 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Esau Till never really had a chance. His mother was an unwilling victim, his father was meaner than a dogfight, and his brother was a beautiful, hapless child who desperately needed protection. While Esau came with brains, he also came with spina bifida. Confined to a wheelchair, you wouldn't think he would be too effective against a habitual drunk who liked to hurt people just because he could.

That man, called The Beast, was Esau and Tory-boy's father. The only use The Beast had for his kids was the money the government paid him for their disabilities. Tory-boy looked good on the surface, but his mind was as crippled as Esau's body. And that's what made Esau fiercely protective of his brother. So protective, in fact, that he devoted his life to keeping Tory-boy safe, a plan that should work even after his own death.

And Esau knows his own death is coming soon, because he is sitting on Death Row right now, writing his memoir --- which doubles as insurance in case someone tries to betray him --- unafraid of dying and unapologetic for how he got there. He still has to take care of Tory-boy, and his plan is almost finished.

Esau Till has to be about the most unique killer-for-hire ever invented. Rolling around in his wheelchair, brilliant, polite, possessed of a natural knowledge of right and wrong, good and bad, he does what he believes he has to do to take care of his little brother. "Esau Till might be a crippled man, but he was a man of his word. And he was not only a for-real outlaw --- he was smart. Real smart."

From the time Tory-boy was born, Esau began plotting. He had already learned how to stay alive himself, but Tory-boy was slow, innocent, and much too trusting. Just getting through each day at home was tough enough.
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Format: Hardcover
The story of Esau Till will shock you. It will sadden and anger you. It will disturb, perhaps even frighten you. But as you are reading it and experiencing these emotions, you will not be able to put the book down. And after you've finished it, when you do put it down, it will stay with you.
That is the power of Andrew Vachss's writing.
It is there in all of his work, but has seldom been displayed better or with greater impact than in THAT'S HOW I ROLL.
The novel is set within the frame of Esau telling his life story from Death Row. He makes it clear that this is neither a confession nor apology, simply a statement of facts recounting the events that brought him to this point. It is also a statement geared--as so much in his life has been--toward protecting his younger brother Tory.
Both Esau and Tory are the product of a forced incestuous relationship between their father--an abusive monster who Esau refers to as the Beast--and older sister. As Esau puts it, "When your sister is your mother, too, you know you're not going to come out right. Not you, not your life, not nothing."
Initial evidence of this comes in the form of Esau being born with spina bifida, paralyzed from the waist down; Tory is physically flawless but mentally slow. The one advantage Esau does have, however, is a genius IQ. It is this that he puts to work with laser-focused intensity to makes things better for Tory and him and, above all, to prepare Tory for life after Esau is gone. To do this, once they are free of the Beast after he's been executed for killing their sister, Esau channels his intellect into becoming a highly sophisticated explosives expert working for the two crime bosses who split control of the surrounding territory.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Telling us about the life of Esau Till, a contract killer and, in spite of that, a person filled with a wondrous love for his younger brother whom he does everything to protect and keep safe.

The book, superbly written, is typically Vachss, as is the dreary, hopeless world his characters live in.

When I read a book by Vachss , and i have read them all, I feel amazed at the meanness this Man has seen and observed in his professional life, therefater so expertly conveyed to paper.

What an ugly world there is, out there, all around us.
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Format: Hardcover
Long after reading That's How I Roll, the book stays with me. The way the story is put together is essential to the power of it. HIR is not about child abuse, but about the effects of it that remain long after. It is also about heroism on the part of a man who beat long odds and found a way to not only survive but put his own sense of right into practice. His concern went beyond his own needs to those of his brother. Much more is revealed, and reverbrates long after. It takes the reader beyond the life of Esau Till and Tory-boy. The people of the "community" where he has become the man he is come alive after the impact of his story sinks in. I put it down with a sense that something very memorable was about to happen, or was happening to everyone in the affected region. Good people, bad people, hand-wringing bystanders, and judgemental hypocrites would all reap the crops they planted.

Stylistically, HIR is pure Andrew Vachss. While I can't imagine anyone but him telling the story, it is certain that only Vachss could write it this way. Pieces of information, seemingly tangential at first, add to the story in a way that one can see the construction of the whole and marvel as a master storyteller and propagandist goes to work. Best book I've read this year.
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