James Sallis
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Buy *Drive* by James Sallis online

James Sallis
Harvest Books
168 pages
September 2006
rated 4 of 5 possible stars
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Click here to read reviewer Bobby Blades' take on Drive.

As sparse and clean as any noir crime novel, Drive is a tale of shadows, those lurking in the psyche and those filling the darkened streets with menace. His Arizona childhood left behind when he walks away from his foster parents at sixteen, Driver steals their car and heads for L.A.

A survivor, Driver becomes a movie stuntman who makes his name on raw talent and ambition, not to mention being in the right place at the right time. Soon he is caught up in another, more lucrative trade: driving getaway cars for small time robbers until one last job leaves him injured and three dead bodies scattered about the room.

Trying to make right the robbers’ terrible mistake in stealing from this particular mark, Driver runs up against the implacable vengeance of the rightful owner of almost a quarter of a million dollars, a man who prefers revenge to settling disputes reasonably.

Picking his way through a veritable minefield of killers, Driver outsmarts them all, if only by a hair’s breadth. In flashes of the past, he relives the few decent friendships he has known with those other lonely souls who recognize a kindred spirit in a harsh environment.

With the emotional clarity of human behavior in black and white, survival is the common denominator, Driver’s soul compromised by his decision to tread a darker path. Drawn into a morass of moral ambiguity and inextricably linked to the violence of the subculture, Driver’s life has been defined by violence, days built around a deep understanding of how little the world offers and how much he must take for himself.

Sallis fills his noir thriller with prose that is stark poetry, slashes of reality and the moral dilemma of those with no prospects and nothing to lose, trapped in a soulless city: “The sun let go its hold and the city’s lights, a hundred-thousand impatient understudies, stepped in.”

Seduced by the rush, the danger, Driver treads where few dare, oblivious in his singleness of purpose, life lessons quickly taken to heart. The lost boy, Driver fights his way through a world that exists below the sightline, the inhabitants of a decaying society playing out life-and-death dramas without second chances.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Luan Gaines, 2006

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