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Blacktop Wasteland: A Novel de S. A. Cosby
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Blacktop Wasteland: A Novel (edició 2020)

de S. A. Cosby (Autor)

MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaMencions
3402258,211 (4.02)23
Membre:ThomasPluck
Títol:Blacktop Wasteland: A Novel
Autors:S. A. Cosby (Autor)
Informació:Flatiron Books (2020), 304 pages
Col·leccions:La teva biblioteca
Valoració:*****
Etiquetes:No n'hi ha cap

Detalls de l'obra

Blacktop Wasteland de S.A. Cosby

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» Mira també 23 mencions

Es mostren 1-5 de 22 (següent | mostra-les totes)
Wow!! High-octane, action-packed, fast-paced, compulsive, propulsive. Starring a main character who does some very bad things but who you want to like and root for. I hope this book is made into a movie! ( )
  flourgirl49 | Jun 10, 2021 |
Excellent story from beginning to end. Perfectly paced with great characters, heist setups and drama. ( )
  andsoitgoes | May 13, 2021 |
Wow, excellent on so many levels, can’t wait for his next book ( )
  jimifenway | Apr 21, 2021 |
This originally appeared at The Irresponsible Reader.
---
MEET MEAUREGARD MONTAGE

The secret ain't about the motor. That's part of i it, yeah, but that ain't the main thing. The real thing, the thing most people don't want to talk about, is how you drive. If you drive like you scared, you gonna lose. If you drive like you don’t want to have to rebuild the whole engine, you gonna lose. You gotta drive like don't nothing else matter except getting to that line. Drive like you fucking stole it.

Beauregard heard his Daddy's voice every time he drove the Duster.

The first thing we learn about Beauregard (nicknamed "Bug") is that he is both a great mechanic and a great driver. We see that at the start as he wins a street race to help pay his monthly bills. The second thing we learn is that he's capable and willing to give a man a beating—both efficient and effective—if he's crossed (read: cheated out of winnings).

Beauregard runs an auto-repair shop in a small Virginia town. He was doing okay for himself until a few months back when a new, better-financed shop opened up in town. Now he's losing customers by the handful, and may not be able to stay open for more than three months.

He's deeply and madly in love with his wife and is a devoted father to two great sons (one complaint—possibly my only one is that we don't get more time with the boys). But one of them needs braces. His wife works too hard, and he'd like to lighten her burden—and provide a nicer home. His daughter (from before he was married, and he never had any kind of custody) can't afford college and plans on working for a while before she can afford it (the reader knows, and I think Beauregard does, too, that she'll never make enough to get there). His mother's in a nursing home, and there's some sort of financial problem there, too.

He's got all that he needs, and it's all about to slip through his fingers.

THE "LIFE"

Beauregard thought about the clichéd scene in every crime movie where the main character who has gotten out of the “Life” buries his weapons under a hundred pounds of concrete only to have to dig them up when his enemies come knocking at his door.

He understood the appeal of the symbolism for filmmakers. It was just unrealistic. You were never out of the Life completely. You were always looking over your shoulder. You always kept a gun within reach, not buried under cement in your basement. Having a gun nearby was the only way you could pretend to relax.

It wasn't all that long ago that Bug* received the bulk of his income from illicit means. He was part of a crew, he was a wheelman for them—among other things. He's a meticulous planner, has an eidetic memory, and can do mental math at a speed I can only envy. He planned whatever the crew was going to do—and woe to anyone who did not stick with his plan to the T, or gave him bad information while planning.

* Beauregard tends to think of himself as "Bug" when he's thinking of the reckless, thrill-seeking lawbreaker side of him, and "Beauregard" when he's living the way he should. I'm following that.

But he decided he needed to be a better father than his own (who never left the Life and left home when it became too dangerous for him to stay). He's been living straight since then. He misses the rush, he misses the work—mostly the driving. But he has better things to focus on now, and he's largely successful.

But is he at the end of that? There are just too many things he needs to pay for and only so much money.

THE TEMPTATION OF BUG
One of his last jobs, before he went straight, was with Ronnie Sessions—he had an idea, Bug came up with the plan, did the elaborate work necessary to pull it off. And then because Ronnie had faulty intel for him, the job fell apart and Bug was out thousands in expenses—and he didn't get the payday. He hasn't seen Ronnie since.

But now Ronnie's back, at just the right time (or wrong, depending on how you look at it). He's got a juicier target. One that will erase most of Beauregard's immediate needs, and will make things more comfortable for a while into the future, too.

After some thinking, some waffling, (this isn't a spoiler, the book needs something like this), he agrees and takes over the operation.

CAR CHASES
I am not a car guy. I know almost nothing about cars, I can do basic maintenance (or I could a long time ago, I'm not sure I'm capable anymore). I'm an adequate driver. I can correctly identify maybe 40% of the cars I see on the road.

However. I am a red-blooded American male. I love car chase/driving scenes.* Like in Blues Brothers, half the TV (and a good number of movies) I grew up watching in the 80s, Bourne Identity, Baby Driver (I could watch the opening sequence on a loop for hours)—the only positive memory I have of the second Matrix movie was the elaborate car chase scene. I could keep going, but you get the point. They're harder to pull off in a book than they are on-screen, but when they work, they really work.

* I realize people who aren't red-blooded American males frequently love them, too, I'm not arguing against that. It just seems more definitional of RBAM.

S. A. Cosby could give everyone lessons on how to do it properly. I don't know that I've read any as good as his. So yes, there's a lot that he has to say about class, race, fatherhood, and more. This novel is beautifully written, with a lyrical nature to some passages that will make you want to reread the paragraphs a few times just to take it all in. But also? It has great car scenes in case you're worried about it being too highbrow and artsy.

OH, IT'S THAT KIND OF BOOK

Men like your Daddy, like me, like you used to be, we don’t die in hospital beds. Ant wasn't perfect. He loved driving, drinking, and women, in that order. He lived life at 100 miles per hour. Men like that, well, they go out on their own terms, usually with a bang.

Fairly early, I decided I knew what kind of book I was reading—we'd see Beauregard and his situation, we'd get a little backstory about his criminal history and why he got out of "the Life," we see the pressures making him think of returning to it (however briefly he intends on it), the temptation to do so, the planning and execution of the robbery, and so on. I was into the idea.

And then the (supposed) central crime is over in a few pages. Which surprised me. And then I noticed I wasn't even halfway done with the book—which meant that the bulk of the book is about what happens as a result of the robbery. And given the tone of the book, we're not talking hijinks and good times. My notes say, "Oh, it's going to be that kind of book.

I'm not going to spoil anything and tell you why it was a mistake for Bug and his fellow thieves to rip off the place they rip off. But, it was a colossal mistake. And the repercussions are big.

Because Cosby had done such a good job making me care about Bug and his family, and the way he wrote the characters who objected to this robbery—I had a really hard time finishing this book. I'd literally have to read a chapter or two and then put the book down for 30+ minutes while I did something else. I just didn't want to know how bad things got for the Montage family.

Still, there was no way I wasn't going to finish the book. I had to know. So, I'd read another chapter or two, and then it'd get too much for me, and I'd start the cycle again. I added a day or two to my reading because of this (I did read the last 50 or so pages without a break, but I wanted one...). I don't react this way to books, I just don't. But, man, this got under my skin and I couldn't do anything else.

SO, WHAT DID I THINK ABOUT BLACKTOP WASTELAND?
Is there any doubt?

Early on, this made me think of She Rides Shotgun by Jordan Harper. It had a similar sensibility, a book about a father throwing away a chance at...everything...so his kid(s) would have a shot at a decent life. I'd even started jotting down notes for a paragraph or two about that. And then I noticed that the last quote on the back cover is from Harper. So I was definitely not the first reader to see the link. Still, if you read Harper (or wanted to), you'll want to get your hands on this. The converse is true as well.

But let's focus on Blacktop Wasteland. From the first paragraph that made me sit up and say "Oh, this explains the hype," to the devastating last line—and all points in between, Blacktop Wasteland is one of those books that a guy can't describe without seeming hyperbolic.

Fantastic car chases. Great action. Compelling and moving family moments. Race as a deterministic factor in success. Class, too. What does it mean to be a father? Human depravity on display in a variety of ways from criminals small-time and Organized. Human frailty and striving for greatness, too. Blacktop Wasteland has it all. You're not supposed to cry over a Crime Novel—and I didn't. But it wouldn't have taken much to push me over that line.

You're not a Crime Fiction reader? I get that—and don't worry, you can just think of this as General Fiction/Literature and you'll be fine. I'm repeating myself. This is a great novel, go read it. ( )
  hcnewton | Feb 4, 2021 |
Brilliant book. Black man and robbery. Clever ( )
  shazjhb | Jan 2, 2021 |
Es mostren 1-5 de 22 (següent | mostra-les totes)
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