I had free HBO a couple of weeks ago and caught the premiere of True Detective. The dialog was so crisp that I Googled the screen writer and discovered Nic Pizzolatto. Ordered Galveston immediately af...
ter reading the preview on Amazon.
Somewhere out there, I read a review that compared him to Cormac McCarthy. Oh, no, no. I'd almost say he's the opposite of McCarthy. Pizzolatto's lyrical narration is nothing like the sparse prose poetry of McCarthy. And he's far kinder to his characters.
Ten pages into Galveston, I'm thinking modern-day Jim Thompson. Fifty pages in, I changed my mind.
What I found in this book, is reflected in Pizzolatto's career: a literary writer working in the framework of genre. A professor who entered the word of crime fiction.
The word "noir" gets thrown around a lot in reviews of this book. Well, maybe, but not the kind I'm familiar with. The prose is too eloquent, the structure too conscious, for it to fit in that niche.
You can tell Pizzolatto is carefully walking you through a story that has meaning beyond the described events. His skill at moving between tenses, the high level, poetic narration of his POV character, all point to this being intended as more than a thriller. In fact, I was surprised to learn this novel was nominated for an Edgar Award. I wouldn't think the followers of mystery, suspense and detective stories would particularly like it. Parts go a little slow.
I'd like to give the novel five stars but there's a couple of things than were near misses for me. Primarily the structure. I don't give plot summaries but toward the middle of the book, the characters drive to a motel in Galveston and then kind of just hang out a bit too long. Also the brutish narrator possesses an eloquence that I didn't find believable until a possible explanation was offered toward the end.
Unlike some reviewers, I loved the transitions between past and present tense in the story. The first chapter that jumped to the present jarred me a little, but accomplished what it was supposed to and made me wonder how the heck the character was going to end up there following the past tense story line I'd been following.
A final word to potential readers: don't let the slowish middle stop you. The ending is worth the multiple descriptions of water stains in the motel ceiling.