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Train Paperback – Feb 1 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (Feb. 1 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 037571409X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375714092
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 13 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 204 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #890,335 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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By bill runyon on June 9 2004
Format: Hardcover
The author tries to pull together a varied cast of characters,
and from various periods of our history, and it doesn't
seem to work.
There is much brutality presented, and old-time racism is at
the heart of much of the writing, but this book doesn't make
it very interesting.
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Format: Hardcover
Miller Packard plays games with himself. He pushes life right up to the edge and then balances there as long as possible. His life is a mess. When he meets black caddy Lionel "Train" Walk, he hasn't lost his propensity for drama and has discovered a talented young golfer prohibited by an invisible yet ever present color barrier.
As the story progresses, complicated Packard strikes up a relationship with Nora, a woman who survives a terrible attack in which she is raped and two black men kill her husband. Tension builds when Packard begins to either expose or exploit Train's golfing talents for profit - neglecting Nora. Three lives dance in an ugly, circular motion.
Climb aboard for a bleak ride through the lives of confused souls. In this well-written story, happiness seems an elusive proposition. This raw story is told without apology from a decidedly male perspective.
Don't expect the journey to be pretty. Expect it to be honest.
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Format: Hardcover
"...this was not an ordinary citizen of Beverly Hills...He probably never threatened anyone in his life. He would skip that step."
That brief passage from TRAIN describes Miller Packard, a detective, who befriends a young black caddy named Lionel Walk, nicknamed "Train", and serves as an example of Pete Dexter's raw, spare writing.
Set in pre-integration California, TRAIN examines the societal relationship between the races that existed then, using a noir style as the vehicle. Given that background, TRAIN in particular is a love story and the story of a friendship between Train and Packard. Golf is also featured prominently in the novel and Mr. Dexter knows his golf, using terms and insights into the game that give this almost a sports novel feel.
At times violent and at times quirky, almost gothic, TRAIN also explores the human psyche with a sharp understanding of people and their motives, both base and higher.
If you enjoy excellent writing, a fast-paced story, penetrating character analysis, realistic action and high-stakes golf, be sure to catch this five-star train for a good read.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a tough book to like. None of the characters are all that redeeming yet I recommend this book because of its insights on the destructive results of racism and discrimination. Dexter has an important perspective on the subject which tends to show how everyone loses. He also tends to imply that as destructive as racism is, we are all vulnerable to being sucked into it.
The main character in this book is a caddy names Lionel "Train" Walk who is truly a great golfer and eventually is befriended by a policeman/hustler Miller Packard.
Being a black caddy in Los Angeles a number of decades ago was not a pleasant experience. During the book, Lionel will be wrongly arrested and will have problems keeping a job.
The one job he eventually lands is in playing golf for high stakes with Miller Packard who funds the entire enterprise while relying on Train's abilities. Packard's experience with racism is exacerbated by the experience of his girlfriend, a social activist whose husband is brutally murdered.
Throughout the book, the characters will encounter a number of challenging events that often force them to reconsider their stands on race and relationships. The only constant in the book is a dark and bleak outlook along with Lionel's stellar golfing.
As a whole, the book will not leave you with a warm feeling about humanity but will cause you to think long and hard about an important subject.
The only annoyance is there seems to be a few plot threads that are left hanging in the end. Still, worth reading.
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Format: Hardcover
I picked this up in the library, just seeing the binding and thinking it was about trains. After reading the description and seeing the (misleading) "National Book Award Winner" caption on the cover, I decided to check it out.
I haven't read any of the author's other books and I may check them out at some point, given the glowing reviews from others, but I did not find much enjoyment in this book. There were a few nuggets, but this book seemed a loose gathering of various substories, mixed with gratuitious sex and violence. The author does a great job of character development, though and that's what kept me reading to the end, which was a disappointment in itself, as well.
My recommendation: Skip this one.
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Format: Hardcover
It�s pretty clear from reading other reviews for Train that people either really like or really dislike this book. I really liked it, although I can see why some wouldn�t.
Train is the story of three people caught in a relationship triangle that is coincidentally both tenuous and gripping. Train is actually a caddy on a ritzy LA golf course named Lionel Walk. The book opens with him caddying for a group that includes a La COP�Miller Packard. The caddy and the cop develop a quick bond out on the course. The relationship develops further as two of Train�s companions at the course kidnap and Norah Still and her husband on their luxury boat-raping Norah and killing her husband. Packard gets the case and falls in love�or at least falls in something�with Norah.
This swirl of event keeps the three in loose yet intense contact throughout the book.
The underlying themes involve racism, brutality, love and, to be honest, abnormal psychology as all three of these characters carry significant psychic baggage that forms their behaviors and thoughts and directs them into places and situations that normal folks would care to visit.
The book stands as a very elegant character study. Moreover, it presents a very rich and compelling noir vision of 1950�s LA.
The book contains scenes of brutal, explicit violence. There is an abundance of generalized but not particularly explicit sexual situations.
This is not a book for the faint hearted but fo those who can take it it�s a fascinating look into the realm of the seriously disaffected urban flotsam of 1950�s LA.
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