In this stunning debut, author Bill Beverly delivers a story unlike anything else in fiction: a dark, haunting, literary crime novel that is also a powerful coming-of-age narrative.
Dodgers is the story of a young man named East who works for an LA drug gang, sent by his uncle along with some other teenage boys - including East's hotheaded younger brother - to kill a witness connected to a major case, who is hiding out in Wisconsin. The journey takes East out of a city he's never left and into an America that is entirely alien to him, and over the course of his journey the book brings in elements from a diverse array of genres, ranging from crime fiction to road narrative to coming-of-age novel.
Written in stark and unforgettable prose and featuring an array of surprising and memorable characters rendered with empathy and wit, Dodgers heralds the arrival of a major new voice in American fiction.
©2016 Bill Beverly (P)2016 Random House Audio
"Not only is the fast-paced and masterfully plotted Dodgers one of the greatest literary crime novels you will read in your lifetime, Bill Beverley has also created, in the teenage boy, East, one of the most unforgettable and heartbreaking characters ever encountered in American fiction." (Donald Ray Pollock, author of Knockemstiff and The Devil All the Time)
"Propulsive, brutally honest and yet unexpectedly tender, Dodgers is one of the best debuts I've read. I was absolutely gripped by the voice, the world of East and his brother, and surprised at nearly ever turn. I audibly gasped at the end." (Attica Locke, author of Black Water Rising and Pleasantville)
"Reading Dodgers is like having the veil lifted from your eyes: The world is more vivid, more intense, more exquisite, and more terrifying than you ever knew. Bill Beverly is a conjurer, a poet of the dark arts, and his novel is a spell: When he sends his young drug-world protagonist on a deadly errand in the alien landscape east of LA - that fat swath of America known to him only by its names and its shapes on maps - it is you who makes the journey, who is the stranger in a strange land, a watcher who now feels the eyes of others wherever you go, and who must pay the devastating tolls of crossing boundaries. Hypnotic, breath-taking, bruising, beautiful, important, true - choose your adjectives, this is a great novel." (Tim Johnston, author of Descent)
Great journey, not what I expected story-wise but gripping all the way through. Highly recommended. Easy to relate to characters and provoked much thought and made me experience a vast array of emotions.
"Dodgers leave L.A!! What's the world coming to?"
A “road trip” novel worth reading.
Like any classic road trip, this is a voyage of discovery, but one that follows a different route than normally taken in this genre. It’s not about a white youth heading west, which has been the classic narrative in most American road trip stories since Jack Kerouac – hell, since Frederick Jackson Turner.
Instead, it’s a road trip story for a modern, urban, American reality: a black youth heading East (the youth happens to be named East; the hero as the homonym). East heading east, fleeing from the past instead of journeying into the future, disappearing into the hinterland instead of arriving wide-eyed and innocent at the Pacific coast. Encountering personal limitation and responsibilities instead of liberation and possibilities.
Some critics have compared East with Holden Caulfield, narrator of The Catcher in the Rye. Others with Raskalnikov in Crime and Punishment. Perhaps a better comparison would be to Huckleberry Finn. (East’s uncle, by the way, is named Fin. This cannot be by accident. Beverly's symbolism is very purposeful, if not always subtle). In many ways this novel is a photo negative of that original American road story, with East = Huck (and Michael Wilson + Walter + Perry = Jim?).
But I kept referring back to “Easy Rider”, the cult-classic Peter Fonda/Dennis Hopper film. (East's nickname is Easy....) Here we have the same aimless meandering toward the same inevitable conclusion. The same admonitions: “America is burning” says the final image in the movie. “America is strung out”, says the book. Everybody is addicted to something: heroin, money, guns, paintball, donuts.
In both the movie and the novel, we are left with a future that looks very bleak, a future that seems stacked against us. Stacked against a black youth from the inner city, to be sure. But maybe stacked against us all. Can our GPS calculate an escape from mortality?
A very worthwhile novel with a good story and a serious purpose. A novel as metaphor for the State of the Nation. You ain't in the conversation if you haven't read it. Narration competent but not memorable.
"Wow, what a book!"
I didn't know what to expect but I loved this book. Deep and exciting story. Awesome use of words and imagery. The audible performance really pulled me in. I was sad when it ended but totally satisfied.
"narration hard to parse"
The narrator emphasizes words and syllables seemingly without regard for their meaning, e.g. "rocking HORSE," "LOG cabin," "curved window GLASS." Sometimes the odd diction choices make the prose hard to understand.
"I didn't want this book to be over."
Loved both the narrator and the narration of the main character, East. Very fulfilling novel.
not bad, but at no point was I taken by the story. it felt a little luke warm to me.
I love a book that takes me outside my comfort zone and introduces me to a world that I would never otherwise known. This book was full of unexpected twists and revelations. It is a coming-of-age story like none other.
Performance is solid. Story was great.
Also great commentary on lives in America that sometimes don't end the way this does.
"never caught on with me"
this book never caught my interest. I did only give it about 3 hours and I was bored.
slightly monotone imo
never made it that far
I tried to finish this book. I really tried, but I just did not care how it ended. I continously found myself zoning out because it was just so dull. J.D Jackson is easy enough to listen too, but honestly I don't know how he muscled through.
"Dark, haunting, exciting, unforgettable."
One of the benefits of being on the road a lot lately is listening to audio books (my delivery system of choice is Audible). I am rather selective and read a fair number of reviews, so most are at least good. Every once in a while, a book is superlative. Such is the case with Bill Beverly's Dodgers, A Novel.
It is a dark, thrilling, haunting, coming-of-age story laid out in a long road trip across America, from South Central Los Angeles to small-town in the mid-west. It raises questions of race, socio-economics, how difficult it is to unbind ourselves from our pasts and what "family" means.
It is one of the best novels I've ever read, which brings me to one of my only two regrets about this book.
The first regret is that I listened to it in my car, with all the inherent distractions involved. The reader was absolutely superb, but I wish I had been lost in the printed pages of this beautiful work rather than stopping and starting and periodically trying not to crash.
My second regret? It appears to be Bill Beverly's only book so far. If that's so, the world is fortunate, because I suspect there will be more greatness on it's way.
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