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God's Pocket

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  380 ratings  ·  38 reviews
Leon Hubbard had it coming. So when the arrogant and near psychotic youth is killed on a South Philadelphia construction site in front of the whole crew, everyone who knows him wants to bury the bad news with the body. All, that is, except two people: Leon's mother and the local columnist, a drunk on a mission. Because only a mother could love a boy like that. And only a c ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published February 1st 1995 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 1983)
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I started following Pete Dexter as a columnist for The Daily News, in Philadelphia. His stories of what most people would call the "underside" of big city life were made incredibly compelling, even if you knew the people in them were probably waiting to do you some serious harm. There was usually some little gem of writing, or a turn of phrase, that made you think about things you thought you knew, in a new way.
I read this quite a while ago, as Dexter was turning into a "novelist". This is an
Dexter’s sense of terror and comedy is firmly in place in his very first novel.The book follows the impact the random murder of an unrepentant sociopath on the neighborhood he is from and a couple other unfortunate outsiders pulled into the events. The story told is one featuring painfully exquisite character sketches, brutal comedy, and violence and told with eye towards grit and street smarts. It reminds me of Nathaniel West, Lehane’s Mystic River( Lehane uses a quote from this book as an epig ...more
Jonathan Briggs

As an old newspaperman (emphasis on the paper, just so we're clear), Pete Dexter knows the art of the lead: "Leon Hubbard died ten minutes into lunch break on the first Monday in May, on the construction site of the new one-story trauma wing at Holy Redeemer Hospital in South Philadelphia. One way or the other, he was going to lose the job." All the facts, followed by a hook to get you on to the next paragraph.

Leon is a persistent pest. "The more you don't lik
A gritty, and at times darkly humorous, story of the working class people who inhabit a section of Philly called God's Pocket. Dexter's writing of this, his first novel, seems influenced by Elmore Leonard. The characters are well developed and although none of them are particularly likeable (except perhaps Lucy and Peets), they are sympathetically portrayed. A sadness surrounds them and we know that for most of them, life will not get better. Well worth reading! A movie of the same name starring ...more
Sharon Powers
Book Review by: Sharon Powers.

"Leon Hubbard had worried most everybody on the crew at one time or another, he'd even touched something in Peets. It wasn't the razor--Peets had taken razors away from people, that was as simple as understanding you were going to get cut--it was something in the kid you didn't want to listen to. The truth was, he didn't believe the kid's stepfather was connected. That was more bullshit, the same way the razor was. He kept it in his back pocket and brought it out t
Ned Mozier
Pete’s first novel, my 3rd of his, is a tight little tale built around a range of characters in small neighborhood in Philadelphia. The plot is spawned very early and the setup draws you immediately by the realism of the dynamics of working class construction crew and an elderly black gentleman (a beautifully crafted saintly character who appears briefly) who is long serving day laborer and quietly endures the noise and distractions of labor unions, street life and racial assumptions inherent in ...more
Steve Rauscher
Was definitely interesting to read a fictional account of my neighborhood 30 years ago. Seeing how Dexter captured the essence of a Philadelphia I know to have existed was fun, and it was even more fun to compare and contrast his chosen named references to where they stand today. (Bookbinders is dead, but the Ben Franklin Bridge is indeed always being repainted)

His characters create a nice frame around the concept of belonging, presenting personalities from all sides of the equation, whether you
Oct 01, 2009 Dan rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2009
this is a pretty solid crime novel. a few moments are really brilliant; written with a real sense of economy and sensitivity. dexter has a knack for summarizing big ideas with little, incidental thoughts. it's an oil-and-water mix of interesting characters (peets, mickey) and predictable ones (jeanie, shellburn), and unfortunately it wraps up the narratives surrounding the stock characters better than a few of the more inspired ones.

it's also a novel of philadelphia (my city), at its nastiest,
Reading this book not too long after finishing a book by Mike Royko, I can say that the writing style these two journalists share is somewhat similar, and of course, likable. I did not feel like my relative lack of knowledge about Philadelphia impeded my enjoyment of this book, which can happen sometimes when I encounter something very regionally based (looking at you, George Pelecanos). While the story isn't a tightly wound thriller, or grisly crime/noir type, the dark comedy that played out ov ...more
Pete Dexter has created a vibrant South Philly neighborhood, filled with characters in every sense of the word. Some, like Leon Hubbard (whose imminent death is revealed in the first paragraph), are worthless. However, his mother thinks otherwise, and her pursuit of justice for her son has a far-reaching impact on many lives, especially the boy's step-father, Mickey. The novel unfolds in tragi-comic vignettes, but the overall impression is that if this neighborhood is God's pocket, it is surely ...more
God's Pocket is an interesting novel. I kept seeing flashes of Philip Seymor Hoffman in a too-tight yellow button down as I read, RIP (thanks, Netflix, for showing me the movie before I read the book). Dexter jumps from character to character and although their stories are different, they are the same; the neighborhood of God's Pocket is made up of the same kinds of people who have been there their whole lives. It makes me think of family cycles, an entire culture that hinges on questions of mor ...more
Joan Noble
I loved God's Pocket by Pete Dexter. He's an awesome writer of life and relationships among the common people who work hard and barely get by. The lower end of the middle class. Gritty and down to earth. A great story teller with a touch of dark humor that brings life to characters.
I'm not really sure how I feel about this novel. I read it in a day, but throughout the day my feelings were only lukewarm, until the end. The end jarred me. It was just kinda sudden and shocking. Because I didn't grow up in a neighborhood like that, I can't identify as much with the comradery that growing up there would bring, and how that would bring about what transpires at the end. It wasn't a happy novel, of course it didn't mean to be, and it was messy and gritty, which is what it was tryi ...more
Mar 09, 2011 Lulu rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: novels
God's Pocket, while it doesn't rise to the literary level of Dexter's National Book Award-winning masterpiece Paris Trout, maintains a strong element of suspense, only dragging occasionally when Dexter indulges too much in painting his alter ego, a newspaper columnist unraveling the impact of the central death on the neighborhood. As in Paris Trout, the author's ability to convey a strong sense of place and community, and to explore racial and generational divides and their effect upon violent t ...more
Milieustudie statt Kriminalroman. Über God's Pocket, ein angeblich eher dunkles Viertel von Philadelphia. Über seine BewohnerInnen und ihre täglichen Kämpfe. Die Atmosphäre des Viertels wird gut vermittelt. Könnte genau so dort ausgesehen haben. 1983, als der Roman erschienen ist. Könnte aber auch heute noch genau so dort aussehen. Auch wenn für ausführliche Beschreibungen dann wohl nicht mehr ganz so viel Platz bleiben würde.
I am absolutely slogging through this book. I really pray it gets better in the second half. At this point, I feel no sympathy for any of the characters.
Rob Di
Interesting character study of 1980s Philadelphia, that still rings true today
Timothy Riley
Another great story by Dexter. There are some great characters here, but I always love the way that he captures working class Philadelphia. He obviously feels much better tuned in to the white parts of the city-south philly, fishtown, kensington then minority neighborhoods including more affluent white hoods like east falls, roxborough, the northeast. The city in 1983 is a much different one from today, maybe it has lost its neighborhood character-and that may be a good thing judging from God's ...more
Cole Brumley
pretty light stuff, but I enjoyed it.
Stacey Coburn
Dark, but vivid. Can't wait to read other titles by Pete Dexter.
I enjoyed how pathetic the newspaper columnist was and how sudden the violence always is in Dexter novels.

Was funny to read about the old neighborhood referred to as Gods Pocket.
Ian Giesbrecht
A first novel that reads like a first novel. Themes that Dexter gets better at exploring in later works are introduced here, but this wouldn't be a good starting point for someone new to Pete's distinct style. The least satisfying I've read by him, still a very enjoyable, dark and tense read.
If you know Philadelphia, you'll recognize the neighborhood, the people and even the plot. Dexter was a columnist for the Philly Daily News when he wrote this story and he got close to the characters that are Philadelphia. Great crime, fabulous plot. Dexter is a true artist.
Larry Berthold
the beginings of the transition from all-time great columnist on the urban beat to one of America's best novelists and a national audience are all there...while remaining true to the neighborhoods that helped birth this tale.
This book was already a little dated when I got around to reading it. But that made it all the more interesting. Set in the recent past of a Philadelphia that isn't quite there anymore. A good solid read.
ABC Group
Solid blue collar crime. This is one of those books you "get" if you grew up in a mi familia sorta background. Very well written, complicated characters, an all around solid book.
This is a re-read for me of another great Pete Dexter story. It's been made into a movie which was just shown at Sundance. It stars Philip Seymour Hoffman as Mickey.
i read this soon after moving to philadelphia. my dad got it for me. i honestly don't remember when i read it, but i know i really enjoyed it. and i got it signed!
His first book. He made the characters come alive and left me feeling satisfied at the ending. Not the greatest but worth the time.
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Pete Dexter, b.1943, is the author of the National Book Award-winning novel Paris Trout and five other novels: God's Pocket, Deadwood, Brotherly Love, The Paperboy, and Train. He has been a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News and the Sacramento Bee, and has contributed to many magazines, including Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Playboy. His screenplays include Rush and Mulholland Falls. De ...more
More about Pete Dexter...
Paris Trout The Paperboy Deadwood Spooner Train

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