Fans of True Detective should check out Nic Pizzolatto’s 2010 novel GALVESTON. Galveston tells the story of New Orleans enforcer Roy Cady as he flees from his former mob boss, but the story really shines in the relationships between Roy and the erstwhile nieces who accompany him on his escape.
After killing the men who were sent to kill him, Roy escapes and takes eighteen year-old runaway Rocky with him. Rocky is running from her own past. Along the way, they rescue Rocky’s little sister Tiffany and head to Galveston.
They spend most of their time in hiding in a rundown Galveston motel. I loved the motel’s sense of community, from surrogate mothers to the daily BBQ that brings everyone out of their rooms for meager but much needed nourishment. Coming out from behind the curtains, however, also exposes the characters’ secrets and subjects them to truths and fates they would rather avoid.
The relationships in the novel are not traditional ones at all; they are, at the same time, fragmented and united, as shown by the evolving interaction of forty year-old Roy and Rocky. After Rocky finally learns to apply mascara properly, Roy wonders if “these might be the eyes of the woman she would one day become.”
The run-down Galveston motel is wonderfully contrasted with the all-too-short times Roy, Rocky, and Tiffany steal at the beach; scenes which show that there is another world out there and it isn’t even that far away.
There’s also a great scene where Roy visits his former flame and is cut down to size in a way that’s emotionally and intellectually vicious. The flip side of Roy’s physical brutality.
After Roy waxes nostalgic, the former flame tells him: “The past isn’t real.” This strikes at Roy’s center like a pickax. In case his savage side has any thoughts (which it does) of taking her right there, in the parlor of her Houston mansion, she brandishes the alarm control in her hand, a TV remote control-like device that enables her to summon the creepy Halliburton Boys who constantly patrol the upscale neighborhood.
While the reader is certainly invested in the narrator, Roy, for me, this is Rocky’s story. For Rocky, the past is all too real and Pizzolatto does a great job of driving that home.
You’ll have to read to see if Roy finds redemption as Hurricane Ike bears down on Galveston and if Rocky and her sister are able to carve out a future for themselves.
Like Roy, Galveston might make you ask what it is you have bought with your life.
Here’s a link to Nic’s website where you can find out how to buy the novel and also get updates on the movie they are making! http://nicpizzolatto.com/index.html