Nicole's Reviews > Nobody Move

Nobody Move by Denis Johnson
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's review
Jan 29, 2011

liked it

I read a library copy of this, and when I first opened it, a bright orange piece of card stock fell out. The card is labeled "Staff Picks," and the handwritten blurb reads, "Pinballing tale of a compulsive gambler who owes money, the loan sharks who want to collect, and a beautiful alcoholic vixen." This sums it up pretty well.

The whole book is fast and fun. I love that every character seems to be going off half-cocked with only about 10% of a plan--there's always some key point being overlooked or forgotten. And it's bizarre to me that, for all the chasing around and running away and sense of big Danger just around the corner, nobody ever leaves town. Never once does it occur to Luntz or Anita to hop on the freeway and get more than fifteen minutes away from the Feather River or the Rex theater. And never once does it occur to Juarez or Gambol that they might. Mary even talks about trying to leave town before, but ending up still there. Which might annoy the heck out of me in some other story, but worked for this one. Each of the main players is already pretty trapped into the lives they're living (character growth/change isn't really the point here), so why not keep them physically trapped in some mid-size, anywhere California town as well?

There is lots of opportunity for fun language here, and Johnson doesn't disappoint. Of course I brought examples along for show and tell. This part's half the fun. Here we go:

"'Come on. The guy drives a Mercedes. Let me go see him.'
'Fucking bullshit. Your uncle.'
'Okay. He's Shelly's uncle. But he's real.'
'Is Shelly real?'
'She's--yeah. Shelly? I used to live with her.'
'The uncle of some bitch you used to live with.'
'Give me a chance, friend. A chance to work my magic.'
'You're working it now. It ain't working.'"

"She pushed the button and her window came down and the wind thudded in the car as she pitched her empty and listened for the small musical sound of the bottle shattering behind them."

"Luntz assumed Anita was back. He heard a loud backfire. The Caddy shouldn't be doing that. And another--identical.
One is a backfire. Two is a gun."

"'I didn't say I'm killing you,' Juarez told him. 'What's happening is I'm about to cut off your balls. If you die of it, that's your personal decision.'"

Fun language like those. So, three stars because I did enjoy it, but no more than that because it's all surface. The perfect time to read this would be between two larger, denser reads, kind of like those between-courses wasabi balls you can get at sushi bars. A kicky palate cleanser.

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