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Drive

(Drive #1)

3.47  ·  Rating details ·  7,619 ratings  ·  835 reviews
Set mostly in Arizona and L.A., Drive is about a man who does stunt driving for movies by day and drives for criminals at night. Sallis combines murder, treachery and payback in a sinister plot with resonances of 1940s pulp fiction and film noir. Told through a cinematic narrative that weaves back and forth through time and place, the story explores Driver's near existenti ...more
Paperback, 168 pages
Published September 5th 2006 by Mariner Books (first published September 1st 2005)
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Average rating 3.47  · 
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 ·  7,619 ratings  ·  835 reviews


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Kevin Kelsey
Jul 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2015
Great little neo-noir crime drama. I really liked the continuity, it jumped around a lot, and told the story from a few different perspectives.

It was short, sweet and well written.
Richard Derus
Sep 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rating: 4* of five

The Publisher Says: “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
...more
James Thane
Mar 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-fiction, noir
This is an excellent contemporary noir novel in which a character becomes caught up by circumstances largely beyond his control and must then struggle to somehow survive.

The main protagonist, Driver, is a stunt driver for the movies, and there's none better. But he also moonlights driving for robberies, and the thrill is principally in the driving itself rather than in the monetary rewards. He makes his position clear to anyone who wants to employ his services: "I drive. That's all I do. I don't
...more
Dave Schaafsma
“I drive. That's what I do. All I do.”

Drive sort of announces itself as (neo)noir from the first:

“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.”

James Sallis dedicates this book to Ed McBain, Lawrence Block and Richard Stark, mystery/detective greats; books written in tribute to authors in a genre will
...more
Lou
Dec 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Driver did not want to know the details of the job he was on, all he did was drive.
He was on the streets in the beginning without a penny to his name then a fate encounter in a bar hooked him up with the stunt car driving world. You won't find this great story telling but a biography of one man's plight in the concrete jungle. He was not brought up with a silver spoon in his mouth but was street savvy and knew how to get by. He could out smart the players. As always the glamorous life of a stun
...more
Ben Winch
May 07, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
What the f**k is this about? Why's the chronology all skewed? Does Driver give back the money or doesn't he? If he does, why?! And what's in the bag he leaves for his foster parents?!! If he doesn't, then why's he so pissed at Nino for not honouring the deal? Who set him up anyway? Why?! How?!! Maybe there are answers in here - maybe I just can't be bothered finding them. But my strong impression is that Sallis can't be bothered either, that to him it's all about style, and that some part of him ...more
Toby
May 21, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black-as-night
Did you see the movie yet? I saw it last year, expecting to be overwhelmed by a genius piece of film making; the hype was massive, the right people were saying the right things, Oscars were mentioned and instead what I got was a very good but not brilliant, subtle piece of noir film making.

Moving on to today and I have read the novel, complete with the face of Ryan Gosling on the cover, my first experience of James Sallis and a novel that has been called "a minor masterpiece by at least two sepa
...more
Gabby
Long story short: I saw this book at the library and I wanted to read it. I saw the movie a few years ago and it's one of my favorite movies and I wasn't even aware that it was a book, and the book is only 150 pages with pretty big font so I was able to finish it in a little over an hour, but wow this was nothing like the movie. I mean it was, but it wasn't. I didn't like how it was written, it's so detached from the main character Driver, and maybe it's meant to be that way (I mean we don't eve ...more
Trekscribbler
May 01, 2011 rated it it was ok
There's an old adage amongst some of us online reviewers that kinda/sorta goes like this: if you have to resort to frequently using words like "perfect," "riveting," "startling," and "stunning," you're more than likely describing what the story isn't for the average person because the average person -- the casual reader, Joe Six Pack with a good in his hands -- tends to find these adjectives descriptive of very specific events in his life ... events like falling in love, throwing the game-winnin ...more
Richard
*Re-Read in 2015 (originally read in May 2011)*

I've been on sort of a casual James Sallis binge lately, so I decided to squeeze in a re-read of the first book I read by him. I liked it a lot more this time, which might be due to the fact that I'm more familiar with his writing, or I'm in just a different mindset. In Drive, Sallis tries his hand at a hard-boiled, Parker-style heist story. And while being true to all the conventions of the genre, he still infuses it with his own trademark style: m
...more
Adam
Apr 10, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-fiction
The NY Times called James Sallis's Drive, "a perfect piece of noir fiction," but as usual they've got their heads up their asses, since Drive is a book that would be more accurately described as, "a perfect piece of shit." Sallis is actually a pretty good writer line-by-line and paragraph-by-paragraph, but he can't construct a book-length narrative to save his life. Drive jumps around in time, mostly to disguise the fact that its plot is stupid, its main character is less interesting than Of Mic ...more
Rick Riordan
Nov 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is an adult mystery novel, a perfect example of noir fiction. It's only about 150 pages long, but Sallis really packs a punch. His writing is powerful and so well-crafted it should be framed as a work of art. This book reminded me why I fell in love with noir fiction in the first place. If you like Hammett, Chandler, Cain and Himes, you will love this book. Also highly recommended: Cyprus Grove, another new, fine mystery from Jim Sallis. As the LA Times recently said, Sallis is so good he d ...more
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Apr 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019

"Something radically new, the producer tells me. Think Virginia Woolf with dead bodies and car chases, she says."
"And you said?"
"After shuddering? What I always say. Treatment, redo, or a shooting script? When do you need it? What it pays?"


Manny is a fictional scriptwriter in the city of dreams, the only friend of a taciturn kid known only by his nickname, 'Driver' . Both of them are professionals, they work for pay, one to write movies, the other to drive the cars as a stuntman. If you don't
...more
Wendy,  Lady Evelyn Quince
When the best thing I can say about a book is that at the very least I can say I've read it, that’s sort of like saying, “Oh, chicken pox, I had that once! Root canal with Novocain wearing off, yup, I know the feeling. ! Hemorrhoids, and explosive diarrhea, I hear you!”—well, you get my drift…

Writer James Sallis's novella, “Drive” reads like something that would be assigned in a freshman English college course: a terrible, post-modern action tale with tons of characters, ever-changing POVs and a
...more
Dave
Rock Solid Noir

Short, compact, deadly noir. Just wonderful work. Simple, basic, gritty. There are sentences and phrases here that tell whole volumes. This shows that you don't need to put out a five hundred page treatise. Like classic pulp fiction, this is right on target, right to the point.

Like Richard Stark's Parker, Drive is the only name you know this guy by. And it's the only thing he knows how to do. Hollywood stunt driver by day and the world's best getaway driver by night. Drive yearns
...more
Sarah
Jun 23, 2012 rated it liked it
Like most of the recent reviewers, I read this after seeing the movie, which undoubtedly changed how I viewed the book. Still, I have to say that I preferred the movie, and not just because of this: Although I won't lie, that face definitely helps. Oof.

Style-wise, Drive was pretty fantastic. It's got such a cool, urban, haunting sort of tone going for it, and the writing could be really great.

But in terms of substance, it was just sorely lacking. Mysterious, invincible Driver makes for a stylis
...more
Adam
Nov 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black-comedy
Drive is stark, brutal, beautiful, and perfect. Language cut to the bone but retaining a beautiful flow.. Emotional, detailed descriptions of food, music and cars while the equally omnipresent violence and death is presented in a matter of fact dead pan. A narrative pitched between 40's noir, 70's cult flick, and a French existential novel. Funny, furious and readable, Sallis should be ranked with, while not quite resembling, American existentialists like McCarthy, Denis Johnson, Lucius Shepard, ...more
Doug
Apr 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If the narrative style of Pulp Fiction and the raw action of Steve Mcqueen's classic Bullitt had a child together, this book would probably be that child. It's cool, slick, slim, and efficient. And it still manages to be remarkably touching at times. This little novel is as American as a Mustang with a roaring V8 and a cold Budweiser on a hot California day, but it is also an alluring and poetic description of a stuntman and part-time getaway driver who lives simply, kills violently, and drives ...more
Jevron McCrory
The thing about movies made from novels is often which one you experience first colours your experience of the other.

I loved Drive the movie. I thought it vibrant, intriguing, uber violent and effortlessly COOL. A loner deciding to risk his life (to stand up and be counted) for a wife and child was an affecting story and the ending was apt. James Sallis' novel differs rather wildly from the cinematic story and unfortunately suffers by comparison.

The book jumps all over a timeline more to hide th
...more
David
Oct 01, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: big-white-square
I liked the film because it didn't take itself too seriously. It was "Grand Theft Auto: The Movie" complete with Vice City's sexy pink font.

The book has less of a sense of humour, and it presented a much stranger world. What was with all the weird friendships in bars? Do straight American men really buy each other burgers and then go back to a trailer to drink bourbon and watch movies? Aren't these "tough guys" ever self-conscious? Driver leaves a huge amount of money, a homeless dog and a thoug
...more
Michael
Feb 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, noir, crime, 2000s
There was so much to like about this book but there were also some things that really bugged me as well. Driver is a mysterious protagonist but I felt he talked far too much for something that would have been more suited as the strong silent type. I’m not sure if he was supposed to be written that way but for me, the impression I received from the character and whenever he spoke, didn’t seem to fit my image of him. There has been a recent movie made about this book and I’m keen to see it but I h ...more
Ed [Redacted]
Jun 28, 2011 rated it liked it
Another book about a getaway driver, DRIVE is a tightly written, dirty, gritty fast read. Sallis is an excellent writer who really focused on character development somewhat at the expense of the rather thin plot. There were some brilliant turns of phrase in this book and the non-linear narrative style worked for me, though it might not work for everyone. I was hooked from the first sentence, one somewhat reminiscent of an old Parker book;

"Much later, as he sat with with his back against an insid
...more
Emily
Feb 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pop-lit
Chris and I both loved the film adaptation of Drive and thus wanted to read the novel, well novella really, that it is based on.

The screenplay definitely takes it in a different direction, adding far more romance than the novel includes, which I can't help but like, but there's a lot in the book that doesn't get captured - scraps and pieces of who Driver is before he comes to LA. While you wouldn't think the inspiration for one of the best action films of 2011 would, the novel deals with huge t
...more
Terry
Sep 12, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: neo-noir fans; anybody
Shelves: modernnoir
Driver (the only name we know him by) is physically small, perhaps even slightly S-L-O-W, son of a small-time burglar, a reader of noirs by George Pelecanos, a Hollywood hanger-on and stunt driver. Despite these deficits, he can drive like some NASCAR fool, but better because he drives the streets on special jobs evading cops, improvising like a jazz musician. That's all he does: Drive. He eschews muscle-jobs or killings.

But when one of Driver's associates shotguns two innocent bystanders while
...more
Mohammed
Jun 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of Noir, modern or classic ones
Shelves: noir
A short novel with only 158 pages but it has more energy,thought,feeling than books twice its lenght.

Its a modern Noir story as it should be written like. With style,skill,good characters.
Jan
May 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My first Sallis. Now I just need to read everything else he's ever written. ...more
Kirk
Jan 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
I've rounded up to four for the sake of symmetry but really, this was a 3-1/2er for me. Knocked 'er off one night in about two hours after seeing the movie wouldn't be out for another week and that Amazon was hocking it for less than $6. I love the idea of this book but I think it's better in theory. Or maybe just not fully realized. This essentially old school Camus with a detached narrator who's such a high plains drifter he not only can't connect but has no desire to. Or so the premise wants ...more
Malum
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars.
I absolutely love the movie, so this book had a lot to live up to going in.

Things I liked about the movie better:
The main character is more enigmatic in the movie.

The interpersonal relationships are more interesting.

The movie moves at a much better pace.

Just judging the book by itself, it still had some problems for me:
Too much filler, such as backstories of minor characters. This novella would have worked better as a short story.

Lots of jumping around in time, which I am generally
...more
Asghar Abbas
Nov 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

A real human being
And a real hero .

Meredith
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.

I was hooked from these opening lines. This short book was filled with tight writing, a fast moving plot, and lots of action.

Very different than the movie, but I liked it. I have a soft spot for all thin
...more
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Some, ambiguous expressions in James Sallis' 'Drive' 3 46 Feb 02, 2018 05:45AM  
Which is better: the book or the film? 7 48 Jul 19, 2015 04:32PM  

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James Sallis (born 21 December 1944 in Helena, Arkansas) is an American crime writer, poet and musician, best known for his series of novels featuring the character Lew Griffin and set in New Orleans, and for his 2005 novel Drive, which was adapted into a 2011 film of the same name.

Other books in the series

Drive (2 books)
  • Driven (Drive, #2)

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Why not focus on some serious family drama? Not yours, of course, but a fictional family whose story you can follow through the generations of...
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Hell with it. Either they’d figure it out or they wouldn’t. Most people never did.”
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