Book review – A pedal to the metal guilty pleasure

2012-01-28 15:05

James Sallis is a former books columnist for the Boston Globe. He has also reviewed for the New York Times, LA Times and Washington Post. He is a prolific writer whose books are now being turned
into films.

The latest is Drive, which features Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan. Sallis reveals the side of Hollywood that movie stars don’t inhabit. It’s the world of shysters, has-beens and wannabes. It’s a sub-working class underbelly replete with Mexican mechanics who won’t check your car’s papers.

Women are referred to as broads, bars serve alcohol 24 hours a day and cheap motels on the interstate house those who live outside the law.

A young man from Arizona arrives in this seedy neighbourhood in a car stolen from his foster parents. He is only known as Driver because that is what he does best – that and kick the guts out of anyone who crosses him. But he is not one to pick a fight.

Driver is taken under the wing of a star stunt driver. When the stunt driver dies in a crash on location, the young Driver assumes the throne. Having no clear moral compass and living in a world defined by fast cars and fast money, he takes on jobs as a getaway driver for armed robbery gangs.

This happens after he develops a friendship with a neighbour, a young Mexican mother whose boyfriend is in jail. When the boyfriend is released, he befriends Driver and lets him in on the kind of work he does.

Drive is full of high-speed chases, Chevys and Buicks, fight scenes and high doses of testosterone. It’s a short book, but is packed with an alarming amount of energy, incredible sentences and reluctant dialogue.

A road trip of any length requires scenery and Sallis provides it all – strip malls, desert landscapes, grubby neighbourhoods and a variety of things that litter the side of the road.

One of the most enduring characters is Manny, a washed-out but highly successful screenwriter with no taste – except for good wine. He is a postmodern philosopher and Driver’s only friend. Driver himself is the quintessential antihero.

Drive is a must-read for petrolheads who want some escapism.

No exit
190 pages, R145

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.