Drive by James Sallis

imageWhen I posted my Tuesday Intro for this book, I mentioned that I was a little concerned because it was already one of my favourite films…a film I would say anecdotally is one people love or hate. I loved it from the first five minutes and was worried that, despite James Sallis being one of my favourite authors, I wouldn’t therefore love the book.

In the film Driver (he has no other name) is played by Ryan Gosling and wears a gold bomber jacket. He is also a man of few words and a very striking character. You spend a lot of time trying to figure out what he’s thinking. In the book, you find out. Or, at the very least, get to know his back story so you can understand a little why he is who he is. Given where he’s come from, it is no surprise he is who he is and that he struggles to form – for want of a better word – normal relationships. Driver is nomadic. He doesn’t make friends easily. When he does, he’s incredibly loyal.

The other thing about Driver is (surprise), he drives. He is a stuntman and a getaway driver. There isn’t any better. It also turns out he is vengeful when he is double crossed in a heist gone wrong and his friend dies in the process. Vengeful and determined to pay back everyone involved, meaning Drive is quite a dark and violent book. It isn’t especially gory or bloody though so it worked for me.

Despite my original fears, and once I stopped picturing Ryan Gosling and his gold jacket, I was completely drawn in and wanted Driver to get his revenge. I spent the second half of the book worried he would come to a sticky end himself (I won’t say if he did or not), my writing speeding up as I read. Thankfully I didn’t have too long to wait to find out as this is a short book, a novella vs. a novel.

It is, however, a book that packs punch and a lot in. It is one of the things I love about James Sallis and I wasn’t disappointed to find the same here. He manages to say a lot with few words and over a few pages. Some chapters were only a page or so long. Yet, nothing felt wasted. Every word seemed to be needed. Every character seemed to be saying something in every line they spoke. This might not suit everyone but it suits me. I love this style of writing. The simplicity and the starkness. And I loved this book. Highly recommended.



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