Nic Pizzolatto is most famous for being the creator and auteur of the sometimes popular, sometimes controversial hit tv series True Detective. Before he made that, he wrote this little crime ditty that shares a lot of themes with the show. I’ve been meaning to check it out for awhile.
I have both love and antagonism towards True Detective. I love moody crime tales but Pizzolatto feels the need to suffuse his with a lot of existential angst, which sometimes works and often times does not. He likes his men manly and his women either to be prostitutes or pushovers. It’s been said that he’s a fan of Robert Bolaño’s 2666 but having read that this year, I came away with the impression he took all the wrong lessons from it.
Anyway, the best and worst of Pizzolatto is on display here in an aging mobster who just got a diagnosis that looks terminal and who’s on the run from his old gang with a teenage girl and a toddler who is maybe her sister. You can see the seeds here for the television show that Pizzolatto would popularize.
What frustrates about Galveston is that when it gets past the janky metaphysical ramblings and Spillane-esque crime cliches (replete with the predictably bad use of similes)….this is actually a good story. And he tells it well. You see the man’s talent for spinning a good yarn. I found myself completely invested in the plight of the characters, even when an obnoxious flashback/forward sequence (you can’t tell when reading it and I don’t want to spoil it) yanked me out of my reverie. It’s why I continue to mess with Pizzolatto’s art despite his dorm room philosophical musings and horrible views on women. Buried underneath it all is a good writer who knows how to tell a gritty crime tale. I wish we saw more of him.