I had high hopes for Galveston. The tags are all there. The awards, nominations and reviews collected. The ball is in my park. It almost lived up to my expectations, too, only just not quite.
I have some mixed feelings about the book. I feel that the word-for-word writing is very good. That each vignette is well crafted and pitched in the required tone for the moment, this usually being in the minor key.
The central characters are strong and interesting and their lives haven’t been easy. I can say this because there’s plenty of back-story to back this up.
There’s also a pretty good plot in there. Hard man working for the mob falls foul of his bosses, is set up and manages to get out of a tight spot, goes on the run and picks up a prostitute who becomes his buddy along the way. The guy has just found out he has only a little time to live and the woman has no idea how to survive in the world if the sex is taken out of it.
What didn’t quite work for me was the way all of the individual parts were put together. The rhythms of the piece are a little erratic and the slower sections lumber in places. There are also elements to the story that seem overly contrived. An example of this is the relationship between the 2 runners which never seems to quite fit. They really shouldn’t stay together and even with their battered past and need for something in their lives, they make a pretty unlikely match.
The overall arc contains a tragic tale and the grim images and thoughts of the protagonist, Roy Cady, are often beautifully expressed. Some of the prose is truly stunning. There are many lines and expressions of pain and sadness that are remarkable and, to my mind, this is the big strength of the book. The ending is one of those seriously good moments and is quite sublime.
Recommended for the quality of the prose, the settings, tones and the vignettes rather than as a thriller.