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Review: Drive

October 21, 2011

Author: James Sallis
Title: Drive
Published: 2006
Pages: 189

A terse and fragmented tale of a man (Driver) who works as a stunt-driver for Hollywood action films and, on the side, dabbles in criminal activity as a getaway driver. When he helps out a friend on a robbery: people are set-up, things get out of control, people get killed and Driver becomes a force of vengeance.

Written in that pared-down hard-boiled style like the great noir thrillers. It is a prose style that is stripped down to the bare minimum; an economy that reflects Driver’s life. Often the prose turns into a form of call and response: “The pizza smelled good. Nino didn’t.” I love these little moments, they’re like ripostes to the story.

Driver’s life is defined by his vocation, constantly ‘driven’ to go some place else. I suppose, in some ways, he represents the freedom of the open road that constant striving to go. Near the end, he’s asked if he thinks life is chosen replying: “What it feels like to me is, they’re forever seeping up under our feet.” Events seem to happen, Driver is thrown into a retaliatory plot that defines him. The story flashes between past and present, Driver sees life as non-linear like the freedom of driving; you can go anywhere.

While the book and the film adaptation share similarities in plot and its cast of characters; they’re both their own thing. The film is a good example of a successful adaptation, it has the essence but creates a new way of looking at the material.

This isn’t a book with a lot of character development, the supporting cast is barely rendered but as an examination of one man entirely defined by what he does it is well worth a read. Plus it’s short but sweet.


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