I put a version of this out on Goodreads and thought I’d share it here:
I bought this book with high expectations. After becoming hooked on Nic Pizzolatto’s writing style through the HBO series, TRUE DETECTIVE, (TD) it was because of a review of the series, I learned about GALVESTON. Of course, I bought it immediately.
I’ve given GALVESTON four stars, but…, dare I say it? I almost gave it three. What was I thinking you ask? I truly did waffle between three/four/three/four, for a while, eventually landing on four, because ultimately, I “really” did like his writing style. The consideration of a three star review would have stemmed from trying to compare it against TD – and eventually I decided that was unfair considering the mediums of delivery. I’ve heard there’s “talk” of a GALVESTON movie, and I can see the possibilities.
Anyway, to address GALVESTON, some areas in the book got muddy for me. Nic Pizzolatto’s writing style is pretty tight, and there’s little in the way of explanation for a shift in timing. He just…, does it. Similar to TD, the book bounces between present day and the past, but some of that can slip up on you – if you’re reading it only a few pages at a time, like I was, it could have been that. Either way, in a couple of instances, I had to back up and re-read passages again to realize, oh, okay, we’ve transitioned to this time frame. I’ve read other books where this wasn’t a problem. So, I don’t know.
Also, I never fully understood what made the main character, Roy Cady, take Rocky with him. Was it to save her because he figured he couldn’t save himself? Was it because he wanted to do something for someone to change their life, give her a second chance? Or, was it because he simply liked the way she looked and thought, maybe…maybe…? I doubt that. Roy Cady, similar to the character of Rusten Cole in TD, was a bit of a purist. Maybe it didn’t really matter why he took her. Sometimes I just want to read without getting wrapped up in the context, the why’s and whatfor’s.
One surprise – I could see through the writing in some places, and by that I mean see effort in the choice of words, see the reach for that Cormac McCarthy style. Not often, but it was there. Last, the ending seemed a bit rushed, like he was trying to wrap it all up.
So, that was what I didn’t care for.
What I liked was that both Roy and Rocky were believable characters. Those down and out of luck sorts of people who somehow make do. The ones who get on with their hard, hopeless lives, moving beyond difficulties and trouble the way people who’ve only known that kind of bad luck can do. I’d have been a puddle of nerves and pee had I gone through what they went through.
And, there were plenty, I do mean plenty of areas of brilliant writing too. Like this sentence, “As though I were protected, on a streak. I felt so sensory and aware I could almost detect each individual atom of smoke rolling over my skin like gravel.” And this, “Certain experiences you can’t survive, and afterward you don’t fully exist, even if you failed to die.”
I mean, WOW, right?
All in all, I was always eager to get back into the book each and every time, anxious to see what happened to these characters. It’s not a happy story. But that’s what you get with noir. I understand it, and expected nothing less, nothing more. Bottom line, when I finished it, I was satisfied, the ending made sense, and there was closure to the important points of the story.
That’s what it’s all about. Wrapping it up, and satisfying the reader. Cigarette anyone?
Which do you prefer? Disturbing stories that make you feel anxious while reading them, or the ones that make you feel like you’re eating cupcakes?