Don Carpenter's Hard Rain Falling is a tough-as-nails account of being down and out, but never down for good - a Dostoyevskian tale of crime, punishment, and the pursuit of an ever-elusive redemption.
The novel follows the adventures of Jack Levitt, an orphaned teenager living off his wits in the fleabag hotels and seedy pool halls of Portland, Oregon. Jack befriends Billy Lancing, a young black runaway and pool hustler extraordinaire. A heist gone wrong gets Jack sent to reform school, from which he emerges embittered by abuse and solitary connement.
In the meantime Billy has joined the middle class - married, fathered a son, acquired a business and a mistress. But neither Jack nor Billy can escape their troubled pasts, and they will meet again in San Quentin before their strange double drama comes to a violent and revelatory end.
©2009 Don Carpenter (P)2010 Audible, Inc.
"A powerful, uncompromising book, realistically written, brutal in the raw intensity of its action...highly recommended." (Library Journal)
"Don Carpenter is a particular favorite of mine. His first novel, Hard Rain Falling, might be my candidate for the other best prison novel in American literature." (Jonathan Lethem)
"Hard Rain Falling is a unique read; violent, tender, inexorable, and melancholic; a beat-era book of disaffected young men devoid of On the Road euphoria but more poignant and gripping for its fatalistic grounding. The small lives contained herein are indelible." (Richard Price)
This was hard to listen to in that, it was pretty depressing, reliving the abuse of Jack as a child and how it affected him in later life. In fact, Jack should have been quite unlikable due to his behaviour; but there was still this feeling of sympathy for him and his lost childhood, that enabled you to keep rooting for him.
I really struggled to get through this book. I hate to give up on a book, but I almost didn't make it to the end of this book. I couldn't find the theme of the book, or develop any interest in the direction of the story. The author seems to wander all over, and I kept waiting for some of these "detours" to have some significance to the story - but there seemed to be no common thread to many of the subplots. Not a good use of a credit.
I thought this book was terrible. The main character did not seem to develop. Just one bad scene after another. He had no redeeming qualities.
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