No Beast So Fierce
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No Beast So Fierce

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  732 ratings  ·  49 reviews
After serving an eight-year term in Folsom State Prison, Max Dembo is determined not to return to his former way of life, in a realistic, suspenseful study of the pressures facing ex-convicts as they attempt to negotiate the straight world. Reissue.
Mass Market Paperback, 319 pages
Published 2008 by No Exit Press (first published January 28th 1972)
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AC
This is as interesting a book, and as intelligent a writer as I've read all year. It is searing, authentic, original, simple...moving, uncompromising...

I don't know quite how to review it, except to say that I'll pound the table on this one.

If you liked Don Carpenter's Hard Rain, and John Williams' Stoner, and like crime novels and thrillers, and psychologically complex and existential characters, try this book. It is that good.
Alberto


3,5 stars. The first novel published by Edward Bunker in 1973 and the third I've read by him. The author was convicted at the time of writing it, having spent around 20 years behind bars. This one is good but I enjoyed much better The Animal Factory and his autobiography Education of a Felon. It's the realistic story of an ex-con on parole, trying to stay in the right side of the society but with the system making it impossible. 1978 film adaptation Straight Time produced and starred by Dustin H...more
Tabasco
Ed Bunker, the author of No Beast So Fierce, is the only guy in the movie Reservoir Dogs who actually looks like a real criminal. That's because he was one, for a long time. And then he was in jail for a long time. This is his first novel, very auto-biographical, with some elements of fiction, and, despite the ugliness of the subject matter (real crime), it pulsates with such a raw energy, such an intensity, that at the end of it, when you close it, you have to raise your eyebrows and go: Wow! A...more
Still
Apr 16, 2014 Still rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those Who Are New To Crime Lit
Recommended to Still by: The Whole Wide World
Shelves: unable-to-finish


Max's black friend from prison breaks out, Max drives up north above the Bay area to pick him up and find him a safe house while the authorities are looking for him. Max intends to set him up as a potential partner-in-crime back in L.A., see?
Great.

This is the description of the neighborhood of the pad Max has found for his pal:

We found him a furnished room in a large Victorian house. The room was quite spacious, on the second floor. A huge window overlooked the front lawn and tree-shaded street....more
Paul
Sep 28, 2007 Paul rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: crime fiction fans
This book stays burned into my mind long after many better written novels have faded. A fine portrait of a very nasty individual.
Aurora
Il primo noir del Signore del Noir, parola di James Ellroy (e io dello zio James mi fido sempre...).
Veramente bello, anche se ogni tanto pare un po' perdersi e dilungarsi.

In libertà condizionata, Max non ce la fa e nonostante le convinzioni e le ripromesse alla fine ricasca, come non era mai cascato prima.
Il tutto sullo sfondo di una LA insanguinata, drogata, corrotta e violenta.
Il tutto mettendo in gioco valori, definendoli e poi sbaragliandoli.
Nessuno è libero in questa società. Le azioni del

...more
Raegan Butcher
Excellent debut novel from Eddie Bunk. Drips with authenticity.
Perry Whitford
Crime fiction of the most authentic kind, written behind bars by a man who spent nearly twenty years in the hatch for all manor of crimes, some violent. Edward Bunker doubtless called on actual experience for much of the story, which is not so much a plot as an unfolding of events.
His fictional protagonist, Max Dembo, is a career criminal, dreaming of going straight the day of his release after serving an eight year stretch, his longest incarceration. Upon hitting the streets, however, lack of...more
ABC Group
Bunker's debut novel is hailed by some as a masterpiece of crime fiction. James Ellroy, William Styron and even Quentin Tarantino all sing his praises. Bunker even wound up in Reservoir Dogs as Mr. Blue.

I read a lot of books considered to be crime fiction and Bunker stands apart in what would be more appropriately termed prison fiction. Max Dembo finds himself released from prison after an year stint. Now he's trying to live the life of the straight and narrow. Max's conviction is like that of a...more
Simon
No Beast So Fierce by Edward Bunker

This was Ed Bunkers debut novel that was written
while he was in prison and looking for a way out
of a life of perpetual crime and imprisonment
that seemed to be his destiny.
It also seemingly was the destiny for the main
character in this book Max Dembo who we meet
while he is inside awaiting release on Parole,
he is a career criminal who was schooled in
crime while working his way through the
childcare system in the US and is hard as nails
as he proves on his...more
Procyon Lotor
Delinquente! Sicuramente scritto peggio dei Promessi Sposi, quantunque Bunker sappia scrivere, salvo che lui fu veramente un Bravo, e mentre i Bravi narrati nel libro sono verosimili o autobiografici addirittura, quelli nei PS sono delle macchiette irredimibili che mostrano solo (per fortuna dell'Autore) che di certi soggetti, al massimo ne ebbe nozione con racconti di terza mano o clich� libreschi. Per cui se parliamo di importanza letteraria, vinceranno sempre i libri "PS", se parliamo di info...more
pierlapo  quimby
Max Dembo sa di aver sbagliato e ne ha pagato le conseguenze.
Ora vuol provare a ricominciare, a sistemarsi, come una persona normale.
E ci prova. Forse, però, non abbastanza. O forse, per uno come lui non c'è altra via che quella del crimine
E' un poco di buono, in fondo, e all'occorrenza sa mascherarsi da bestia feroce.
Alla fine, resta il tremendo rimpianto per un'occasione sprecata.
Jodell
This book describes and depicts the realities of life once a person is released from prison. I agree with the part of law enforcement and correctional agencies that most prison environments are dehumanizing and not oriented towards "rehabilitation" or developing personal empathy or insights that will lead to positive changes.

However, I also believe that some convicts rationalize their behavior to blame external circumstances or experiences for leading to criminal behavior. There is no behavior w...more
Carlo
Dopo una vita trascorsa tra riformatorio e prigione, Max Dembo vorrebbe provare a reinserirsi nella società, forte anche di quel po’ di cultura che si è fatto in prigione (perché ‘in otto anni anche un cretino’ se la farebbe). Uscito in libertà condizionata, scopre ben presto che quella vita non fa per lui e, del resto, la società non sembra poi così ben intenzionata ad accoglierlo: meglio tornare alla vecchia vita, malgrado i rischi siano sempre in agguato per cancellare i pochi momenti luminos...more
Alea
Max Dembo è un figlio di puttana, infanzia difficile tra famiglie affidatarie e istituti e riformatori, allevato a furti e droga.
Poi, ovviamente il carcere. Una lunga permanenza, otto anni, una bella fetta di giovinezza . Studia nel carcere, Max. Ci crede nella vita nuova, fuori. E’ consapevole di ciò che è stato, si condanna, ma contemporaneamente si assolve. E’ un prodotto della società.
Fuori dal carcere la spirale “malavitosa” riprende.
Ineluttabile destino, per chi fuori non ha altri aggan...more
Mika Auramo
Edward Bunkerin rikosromaani on kivikovaksi keitettyä väkivaltadraamaa. Monelta osin omaelämäkerrallisia piirteitä sisältävä teos ei jätä lukijaansa kylmäksi.

Päähenkilö on Bunkerin oloinen Max Dembo, joka vapautuu vankilasta kärsittyään kahdeksan vuoden tuomion. Eletään 1960-luvun Los Angelesissa, ja karu ehdonalaisuus odottaa paatunutta rikollista ja väärentäjää.

Todellisuus iskee rajusti entistä linnakundia, ja hänen valvojansa nöyryyttää minkä kerkiää. Entisistä ympyröistä ei tunnu olevan palu...more
Maddy
PROTAGONIST: Max Dembo, robber
SETTING: Los Angeles
RATING: 4.0
WHY: After 8 years, Max Dembo is being released from prison. He's determined to live the "straight" life, but his efforts are doomed from the start. As a small child, he lived in foster homes and graduated to juvenile detention facilities. He's always lived outside the law; and the only people he knows are criminals, hookers and addicts. He can't find a job. When his parole officer puts him in jail for a bogus drug use charge, his ange...more
Maia Losch
Edward Bunker narra con dignidad la vida de un ex-presidiario y las dificultades para salir del bucle de la delincuencia, ya sea por aspectos sociales como sicológicos. Nos muestra al ser humano que delinque en un amplio espectro, lo encarna y nos lo acerca para que aquellos que nunca hemos estado en contacto con este mundo, podamos -o al menos intentemos- comprender qué se esconde bajo la máscara de un hombre que vive al margen y que, en su mayoría, solo consigue sobrevivir hasta la próxima vue...more
Mariano Hortal
A Edward Bunker le conoce todo el mundo por protagonizar la película de Tarantino "Reservoir Dogs" (hacía de Mr Blue), lo que seguramente nadie conocía era su faceta como escritor, tenemos la suerte de empezar a ver publicados sus libros por aquí. "No hay bestia tan feroz" es hardboilismo puro y duro, nunca se podrían haber reflejado los bajos fondos de una manera tan realista, no en vano el bueno de Edward estuvo entrando y saliendo de la cárcel toda su vida. Escalofriante y dura por momentos,...more
Kit Fox
Talk about your super-gritty crime novels, No Beast So Fierce comes at you with the intensity of a six-foot-five ex-con who's wracking a sawed-off shotgun and has nothing to lose. It should come as no surprise that Bunker writes from a position of supreme authority, having himself been a stone-cold criminal for a significant portion of his life. The prose for the most part is straightforward and gingerly peppered with choice jail-house argot with the occasional "motherfucking punk-ass" added for...more
Helena Rose
I liked it a lot, action pact and thrilling, it kept me glued till the last page
Tom Schulte
I got interested in finding out more about Pulp Fiction's Mr. Blur. Seeking out one of the apparently two biographies, I camr across the noir-ish crime novel. I was intrigued by its reputation and the fact the earliest draft was smuggled out of jail.

The similarities to the Pulp Fiction story intrigued me: an ex-con chooses to return to crime (what else?), the jewel heist gone wrong resulting in a gun batlle, the unexpected rat...a criminal's justice.

This is also the first time I've heard opting...more
Jim
It was a mistake to read "The Animal Factory" first, because all other Bunkers seem a footnote to that. I like his works when they deal with small scenes, not big scenes. I thought the best parts here were the interaction with the friend's sister, and just about any scenes in the hills and alleys of Lincoln Heights. Also, the beginning, dealing with the release of the con back into the wild, was outstanding. Oddly, the crime/caper stuff, not as compelling.
Massimo Foglio
Splendido per l'intensit�� del racconto, ma ancor pi�� splendido per il grande lavoro di analisi del personaggio, attraverso il quale Bunker compie una sorta di autoanalisi. Molto di quello che Bunker mette nei suoi racconti, lo conosce per averlo vissuto da vicino, se non in prima persona, e le amare, sofferte, ciniche riflessioni di Max Dembo, diventano quelle di Ed Bunker che, a differenza dei suoi personaggi, �� riuscito a trovare una via d'uscita.
Susa
Aloittaessani tätä olin pettynyt kirjoitustyylin yksinkertaisuuteen, mutta se selittyi kirjailijan omalla vankilahistorialla. Edward Bunker on itse ollut FBI:n kymmenen etsityimmän rikollisen joukossa, joten ei mikään ihme, että siltä taustalta osaa kirjoittaa näin aidon romaanin rikollisuudesta, ryöstöistä ja tapoista. Älyttömän mielenkiintoinen, vaikkakin ihan eri genreä kuin mitä yleensä luen. Loppua kohden jo ahdistavan jännittävä.
Mark
Unvarnished. That's the best way to describe this ruthless look inside the mind of a career criminal. Actually, "career criminal" is something of a misnomer. I'm sure Edward Bunker would say his would-be protagonist, Max Dembo, had a career in crime because he was a criminal by birth and nature. Either way, the violence and vulgarity in this book may turn some folks off. It's a great read. But there's nothing pretty about it.
Jonathan
I'm always conflicted about books that glamorise real crime.

The other is a career criminal. The book basically explains that he had no choice in the matter and tells of his "exploits" which are largely a series of escalating events that he says are beyond his control.

Not particularly well written and slightly depressing oevrall.
Oliver Hodson
Very good book, tightly written, and asks two big questions- how much of the criminal is the criminal, and how much is it society? And then how to plug back in? Dembo wavers around on both and in the meantime commits crimes of 'necessity'. Interesting what unravels and what doesn't over the time.
Mauro Saracino
Credo che Bunker vada letto a scuola. Oltre a spaccati di vita dipinti con maestria, è in grado di proporre riflessioni che tanto spicciole non sono e che si inseriscono alla perfezione nell'universo di violenza che l'autore descrive. Un classico.
Ken
Bunker is no great prose stylist and the character of Max Dembo I found hard to identify with. Still it was a captivating book. It was interesting to see the world through the eyes of a career criminal and ex-con and the story moved at a brisk pace.
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115388
Edward Heward Bunker was an American author of crime fiction, a screenwriter, and an actor.
He wrote numerous books, some of which have been adapted into films.
Bunker was a bright but troublesome child, who spent much of his childhood in different foster homes and institutions.
He started on a criminal career at a very early age, and continued on this path throughout the years, returning to prison...more
More about Edward Bunker...
The Animal Factory Education of a Felon Dog Eat Dog Little Boy Blue Stark

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“This was the Mecca of the American Dream, the world that everyone wanted. A world of sleek young women (allied with Slenderella to be so) in shorts and halters, driving 400-horsepower station wagons to air-conditioned, music-serenaded supermarkets of baby-sitter corporations and culture condensed into Great Books discussion groups. A life of barbecues by the swimming pool and drive in movies open all year. It did't appeal to me. Fuck health insurance plans and life insurance. They wanted to live without leaving the womb. It made me more alive to play a game without rules against society, and I was prepared to play it to the end. A tremor almost sexual passed through me as I anticipated the comming robbery.” 10 likes
“My letters seeking a job, though truthful, diminished the full truth. Face would blanch if the facts had been complete: "Dear Sir," I thought. "Do you have a position for a journeyman burglar, con man, forger and car thief; also with experience as armed robber, pimp, card cheat and several other things. I smoked marijuana at twelve (in the 40's) and shot heroin at sixteen. I have no experience with LSD and methedrine. They came to popularity since my imprisonment. I've buggered pretty young boys and feminine homosexuals (but only when locked up away from women). In the idiom of jails, prisons and gutters (some plush gutters) I'm a motherfucker! Not literally, for I don't remember my mother. In my world the term, used as I used it, is a boast of being hell on wheels, outrageously unpredictable, a virtuoso of crime. Of course by being a motherfucker in that world I'm a piece of garbage in yours. Do you have a job?” 6 likes
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