Like everyone else, I’ve been swept up by the amazing True Detective on HBO. The storytelling and acting are really great, and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens this weekend on the finale. I really have no idea where its going — but I love reading the theories and speculations all over the internet. Yellow King, Carcosa, Spaghetti Monster, Rust Cohle — they are all amazing creations. I had no idea that the series’ writer, Nic Pizzolatto, was also a novelist.
Galveston is about an ex-con (who still does shady work for a living) named Roy Cady. He’s doing some work for an even worse guy down in New Orleans when we first meet him, in the late 1980s. In the very first chapter, Roy finds out that he’s dying of lung cancer, and that he really doesn’t have much to live for anymore. No family, no loved ones, nothing much accomplished in his life full of regret.
And then Roy meets Rocky, a young girl down on her luck, under very bad circumstances. And Rocky changes Roy’s life — both for better and for worse.
Galveston, like True Detective, jumps from past to present. We see Roy as he was, and we see the man that Roy ended up. We find out how Rocky’s influence changed him, and how he changed himself. And we see that, even though Roy wasn’t a very good guy, it doesn’t mean he wasn’t a good man.
I liked a lot of things about Galveston. Pizzolatto has a hard-boiled writing style, like James Ellroy and Don DeLillo. He writes tough, violent bits that are quickly counteracted with scenes of real humanity. While Roy wasn’t a guy I was necessarily “rooting” for, I really did end up liking a lot of the secondary characters, and worried for the well-being.
But there were also a few issues I had with the book as well. And I wonder if I would have felt the same if I had discovered Pizzolatto as an author without knowing anything about True Detective.
It was nearly impossible to picture anyone but Matthew McConaughey as Roy, as he was described as the modern version of Rust Cohle — tall, thin, cowboy boots, long hair pulled back. And Roy had a habit of carving little aluminum men out of beer cans, just like Rust Cohle. They both drive beaten up Ford F-150s and drink to mask their emotional pain. Both stories bring out the worst of the gulf coast (Louisiana, Texas), really not painting a very pretty picture at all. And both are filled with really bad people doing really bad things to young girls and women. So, a lot of the story and details didn’t seem particularly fresh to me. More like a retread of what I’ve been watching on HBO.
But that’s not really all that big a complaint. When writing is good, its good. And Pizzolatto is a good writer who has some dark stories to tell.