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Trainby Pete Dexter
Synopses & Reviews
Los Angeles, 1953. Lionel Walk is a young black caddy at Brookline, the oldest, most exclusive country club in the city, where he is known by the nickname “Train.” A troubled, keenly intelligent kid with no particular interest in his own prodigious talent for the game, he keeps his head down and his mouth shut as he navigates his way between the careless hostility of his “totes” and the explosive brutality of the other caddies.
Miller Packard, a sergeant with the San Diego police department, first appears on the boy’s horizon as a distracted gambler, bored with ordinary risks. Train names him the “Mile-Away Man” as they walk off the first tee, and even months later, when they have become partners of a sort and are winning high-stakes matches against golf hustlers all over the country, the Mile-Away Man is a puzzle to Train, remote and intimate, impulsive and thoughtful, often all at the same time.
Packard is also a puzzle to Norah Still, the beautiful lone survivor of a terrifying yacht hijacking, who is both aroused and repulsed by his violent and detached manner at the crime scene. Packard himself feels no such ambiguity. He is unequivocally drawn to Norah – and perhaps to what has happened to her – and an odd, volatile triangle takes shape, Packard pulling the other two relentlessly into deeper water, away from what is safe.
With his trademark economy of style, Dexter brings these characters to life in their most reckless, vulnerable moments, stripping away words and manners until all that is left is the basic human pulse.
"In clear, pitch-perfect prose, Dexter moves the relentless story forward, exposing the ironies and dark undercurrents of charitable actions. The calamitous conclusion looms over the novel from the start, and it comes just as the reader knows it must." Publishers Weekly
"Train pulses with energy and meanness, and its nihilistic vision of a 'hungry' world where 'whatever kind of thing you is, there's something out there that likes to eat it' has a noir-inflected authority." Kirkus Reviews
"Dexter?s skill resides in keeping an atmosphere of menace close to the surface at all times, so that the violent collision of the worlds surrounding Packard seems inevitable." The New Yorker
"There are pleasures aplenty: superbly rendered characters, every detail just right....And, perhaps best of all, there's the golf: fitting naturally into its noir context." Booklist
"What deepens and darkens [Dexter's] writing, so that art is the precise word to describe it, is a powerful understanding that character rules, that we live with our weaknesses and die of our strengths." John Skow, Time
"As always, Dexter gets violence on paper with a harsh precision, and the pages turn with a potboiler's fleetness. When the final boom rumbles, readers are likely to be up well past their bedtimes." Jonathan Miles, New York Times
"The strength of the novel lies far beyond its noirish setting or graphic plot twists. It is rather in Dexter's assured and direct handling of the ever-tangled subject of how ordinary people try to ford the nation's racial divide in pursuit of, or in flight from, deeper human truths." Chris Lehmann, The Washington Post
"Dexter is a master of colloquial poetry, of moods revealed through gestures and settings." Playboy
"One of the greatest American writers — a storyteller who cuts straight to the nerve." Scott L. Turow
"Dexter's writing is a living thing. It doesn't draw attention to itself; it just works." Bob Minzesheimer, USA Today
"Dexter is a writer who cuts to the bone." People
National Book Award winner Pete Dexter crafts a stunning novel of crime, race, and unlikely liaisons — a tautly written Los Angeles noir set in the 1950s that brings to mind Chinatown and L.A. Confidential.
About the Author
Pete Dexter is the author of the National Book Award winner Paris Trout and of God's Pocket, Deadwood, Brotherly Love, and The Paperboy. He was born in Michigan and raised in Georgia, Illinois, and eastern South Dakota. He lives in Puget Sound, Washington.
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