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Train
PETE DEXTER

Train by Pete Dexter
35 reviews (2003) (288p)
LA Times Book Prize for Fiction

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Book Description
Los Angeles, 1953. Lionel Walk is a young black caddy at Brookline, the oldest, most exclusive country club in the city, where he is known by the nickname "Train." A troubled, keenly intelligent kid with no particular interest in his own prodigious talent for the game, he keeps his head down and his mouth shut as he navigates his way between the careless hostility of his "totes" and the explosive brutality of the other caddies.

Miller Packard, a sergeant with the San Diego police department, first appears on the boy's horizon as a distracted gambler, bored with ordinary risks. Train names him the "Mile-Away Man" as they walk off the first tee, and even months later, when they have become partners of a sort and are winning high-stakes matches against golf hustlers all over the country, the Mile-Away Man is a puzzle to Train, remote and intimate, impulsive and thoughtful, often all at the same time.

Packard is also a puzzle to Norah Still, the beautiful lone survivor of a terrifying yacht hijacking, who is both aroused and repulsed by his violent and detached manner at the crime scene. Packard himself feels no such ambiguity. He is unequivocally drawn to Norah – and perhaps to what has happened to her – and an odd, volatile triangle takes shape, Packard pulling the other two relentlessly into deeper water, away from what is safe.

With his trademark economy of style, Dexter brings these characters to life in their most reckless, vulnerable moments, stripping away words and manners until all that is left is the basic human pulse.


Amazon.com Review
In the 1953 of Pete Dexter's Train, Miller Packard is a sergeant in the San Diego police department who has little time for hypocrisy or racism. He lives life as a dare, fearless and bemused, his wife observing that he "was drawn to movement and friction, to chance; he had to have something in play." He is also a golfer, though not a great one. Over a game with a fat cheater named Pinky, Packard's world collides with the troubled life of Lionel "Train" Walk, a young African-American caddy at Brookline Country Club. Train is a virtuoso golfer but is doomed to tote old men's clubs in a sport that can't find a place for a young black athlete. Train also holds a secret, a murder that has never been reported but haunts his every step. In the volatile world of 1950s racial politics, bonds of friendship that cross the color line are doomed, and Packard and Train cruise towards inevitable conflagration.

Dexter explores racism with a cold eye in Train--rarely politically correct and always unafraid to find pettiness in the lives of liberal whites, beatniks, philanthropists, and powerful African-Americans. Outside of the purity of Train's golf swing, Dexter finds little to celebrate in the troubled times, and every page offers the possibility of new catastrophe. Occasionally, with this abundance of disaster, Dexter seems to lose track, and a few of his subplots (like the story of a hideously burned reporter who tries to uncover the truth behind the killings on a sailboat) never quite get resolved. Yet, Train is not a bleak novel, and Packard's detachment lends the book an air of dark comedy. When Dexter writes, "Packard was amused with the world at large" he could just as well be writing about himself: curious, entertained, fascinated, but never unsettled by the grotesquery of human existence. --Patrick O'Kellley


Other Award Winning Books by Pete Dexter
Spooner by Pete Dexter
91 reviews (2009) (480p) (Amazon) (ALA)
Read Reviews | Visit this book's Amazon.com page
The Paperboy by Pete Dexter
33 reviews (1995) (307p) (ALA)
Read Reviews | Visit this book's Amazon.com page
Paris Trout by Pete Dexter
30 reviews (1988) (306p) (NBCCA) (NBA)
Read Reviews | Visit this book's Amazon.com page

Pete Dexter Award Stats
Major Prize* Nominations 4  
Unique Books Nominated for a Major Prize* 3  
Pulitzer Prize Wins 0  
Pulitzer Prize Nominations 0  
National Book Critics Circle Award Wins 0  
National Book Critics Circle Award Nominations 1 Paris Trout ·  
National Book Award Wins 1 Paris Trout ·  
National Book Award Nominations 1 Paris Trout ·  
Man Booker Prize Wins 0  
Man Booker Prize Nominations 0  
PEN/Faulkner Award Wins 0  
PEN/Faulkner Award Nominations 0  

*Major Prize = Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award, National Book Award, Man Booker Prize, and PEN/Faulkner Award

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