Jim Sallis has published fourteen novels, multiple collections of short stories, essays, and poems, books of musicology, a biography of Chester Himes, and a translation of Raymond Queneau's novel Saint Glinglin. He has written about books for the L.A. Times, New York Times, and Washington Post, and for some years served as a books columnist for the Boston Globe. In 2007 he received a lifetime achievement award from Bouchercon. In addition to Drive, the six Lew Griffin books are now in development as feature films. Jim teaches novel writing at Phoenix College and plays regularly with his string band, Three-Legged Dog. He stays busy.
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"I drive. That's what I do. All I do."
'Much later, as he sat with his back against an inside wall of a Motel 6 just north of Phoenix, watching the pool of blood lap toward him, Driver would wonder whether he had made a terrible mistake. Later still, of course, there'd be no doubt. But for now Driver is, as they say, in the moment. And the moment includes this blood lapping toward him, the pressure of dawn's late light at windows and door, traffic sounds from the interstate nearby, the sound of someone weeping in the next room....'
Thus begins Drive, a new novella by James Sallis. Set mostly in Arizona and L.A., the story is, according to Sallis, "...about a guy who does stunt driving for movies by day and drives for criminals at night. In classic noir fashion, he is double-crossed and, though before he has never participated in the violence ('I drive. That's all.'), he goes after the ones who doublecrossed and tried to kill him."
CRITICAL ACCLAIM FOR DRIVE
'Sallis creates vivid images in very few words and his taut, pared-down prose is distinctive and powerful. The result is a small masterpiece.' - Susanna Yager, Sunday Telegraph [read the full review]
'Sallis's lean mystery and flat-voiced prose are refreshing, even startling. A lovely piece of work.' - Paul Skenasy, Washington Post Books World - Best Books of 2005
'James Sallis has written a perfect piece of noir fiction.' - Marilyn Stasio, New York Times [read the full review]
At 158 pages, Drive is the most compact novel I've read in some time, so I'll make this brief: James Sallis has written a perfect piece of noir fiction. In telling the good-man-gone-bad story of a Hollywood stunt driver named, appropriately enough, Driver ("I drive. That's what I do. All I do."), this master stylist uses a cinematic idiom of jump-cut, nonsequential scenes to focus on those hollowed-out moments when a man's moral landscape suddenly shifts and he's plunged into darkness. If there's a message in this, I don't want to know about it. I read. That's what I do. All I do.
'If Camus had been at all interested in the crime or noir genre, then you could imagine he might produce something vaguely comparable to James Sallis’ novel Drive' - Spike Magazine, Declan Tan [read the full review]
'A taut page-turner. Sallis' lean tale (158 pages) and flat-voiced prose are refreshing, even startling...It's a lovely piece of work that makes you wish some other writers would take lessons from him.' - Paul Skenazy, Washington Post [read the full review]
The unnamed hero of Drive by James Sallis is a kid who blows into LA and starts working as stunt driver on crime movies. He's the best. Word gets around and he's approached to do some driving for real bad guys. Why not? It's what he does. Just driving from A to B and that's it, until he's double crossed on a job and seeks revenge. Fast cars, guns and babes. Just my cup of tea.
Mark Timlin, Independent Online
'Imagine the black heart of Jim Thompson beating in the poetic chest of James Sallis and you'll have some idea of the beauty, sadness and power of Drive' - Dick Adler, Chicago Tribune [read the full review]
Imagine the black heart of Jim Thompson beating in the poetic chest of James Sallis and you'll have some idea of the beauty, sadness and power of "Drive," the title of which comes from the same Robert Creeley poem Jeremy Larner used for his memorable novel (made into a film directed by Jack Nicholson) "Drive, He Said."
"Drive" is short - a novella - but has more thought, feeling and murderous energy than books twice its length.
James Sallis is a prolific and cruelly under-recognized writer - a poet, novelist, essayist and biographer (of the great crime writer Chester Himes). His new book, 'Drive' is a doozy: a compact, beautifully written little noir gem. It whips along as coolly and efficiently as the guy it's named for. Driver is (what else?) a professional driver - for the movies by day, for armed robbers by night. Driver's the best, but he has some strict ground rules - he doesn't carry a gun or participate in rough stuff. He just drives, that's all. But when a heist goes bad and he's double-crossed, Driver doesn't hesitate to break his rules and exact implacable revenge.
'masterfully convoluted neo-noir, which ranges from the dive bars and flyblown motels of Los Angeles to seedy strip malls dotting the Arizona desert...' - Publshers Weekly [read the full review]
"I drive. That's what I do. All I do." So declares the enigmatic Driver in this masterfully convoluted neo-noir, which ranges from the dive bars and flyblown motels of Los Angeles to seedy strip malls dotting the Arizona desert. A stunt driver for movies, Driver finds more excitement as a wheelman during robberies, but when a heist goes sour, a contract is put on his head and his survival skills burn up the pavement.
Author of the popular six-novel series set in New Orleans featuring detective Lew Griffin (The Long-Legged Fly, etc.) and such stand-alone crime novels as Cypress Grove, Sallis won't disappoint fans who enjoy his usual quirky literary stylings. Reading a crime paperback, Driver covers "a few more lines till he fetched up on the word desuetude. What the hell kind of word was that?" Lines such as "Time went by, which is what time does, what it is" provide the perfect existential touch.
In this short novel, expanded from his story in Dennis McMillan's monumental anthology Measures of Poison, Sallis gives us his most tightly written mystery to date, worthy of comparison to the compact, exciting oeuvre of French noir giant Jean-Patrick Manchette.