Jimmy Luntz is an innocent man, more or less. He's just leaving a barbershop chorus contest in Bakersfield, California, thinking about placing a few bets at the track, when he gets picked up by a thug named Gambol and his life takes a calamitous turn. Turns out Jimmy owes Gambol's boss significant money, and Gambol's been known to do serious harm to his charges. Soon enough a gun comes out, and Jimmy's on the run. While in hiding he meets up with a vengeful, often-drunk bombshell named Anita, and the two of them go on the lam together, attracting every kind of trouble.
The latest from National Book Award-winning author Denis Johnson, Nobody Move "does exactly what noir should do--propel the reader downhill, with its cast of losers, louts and toughs as they cheat, shoot, and exploit one another into fast-talking oblivion" (Jess Walker, The Boston Globe).
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Denis Johnson is the author of six novels, three collections of poetry, and one book of reportage. His novel Tree of Smoke was the 2007 winner of the National Book Award. He lives in northern Idaho.From The Washington Post:
From The Washington Post's Book World/washingtonpost.com Reviewed by Sarah Weinman It may seem odd that Denis Johnson has followed up on his National Book Award-winning "Tree of Smoke," a sprawling novel about the Vietnam War, with its diametric opposite, a slim, blackly comic crime tale reminiscent of those published by Fawcett Gold Medal half a century ago. But John Banville made a similar move when he adopted the name Benjamin Black for his crime novels after he won the Booker Prize; Kate Atkinson refashioned her voice within the detective fiction template; and for each the change fits like a sleek leather glove. The same can't quite be said of Johnson, but, like his literary colleagues in crime, he displays a wicked sense of fun. Johnson originally wrote "Nobody Move" for serialization in Playboy last year, which explains the narrative's four-part arc of cons, scams, grifts and guns. Jimmy Luntz, an occasional barbershop quartet singer, is a small-time hood with "a Santa Anita sheet folded up in the pocket of his blinding white tux," still feeling the itch to bet despite constant disappointment. Anita Desilvera is the embodiment of the femme fatale, ready to play her trump card -- an embezzled stash of $2.3 million -- after becoming "a vagrant, a felon, and a future divorcee" in a single morning. Among those zigzagging through Bakersfield, Calif., looking for the money are Anita's soon-to-be-ex, a crooked judge and Jimmy, whose collision course with her sets up for a cascading-domino sequence of violence. The brevity of this novel limits Johnson's scope, but he still has room for zingers (like a character who gets "thirty percent drunk"); observations of human nature (Anita: "Do you always talk about people like they're invisible?" Jimmy: "Usually just women"); and an extended gunfire sequence that plays like an outtake from "Tree of Smoke." "Nobody Move" does not rank as a major work, but enjoy it for what it is: an idiosyncratic journey through familiar terrain.
Copyright 2009, The Washington Post. All Rights Reserved.
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