Lionel Walk, better known as Train, is a young black caddy at an elite Los Angeles golf course, where he comes to know a police detective he calls 'The Mile-Away Man'. Keeping his head down, he navigates his way between the careless brutality of the other caddies. Norah Still is unwillingly at the center of the criminal investigation, as the only survivor of an attempted boat hijacking gone violently wrong. Sergeant Miller Packard - Train's 'Mile-Away Man' - is in charge of the case and, as he quietly manages the crime scene, he finds himself drawn to the beautiful window. Miller's interest in Norah and Train soon moves beyond his professional obligations. He tries to shield Norah from the events on the boat, fighting her need to hold on to the past. He becomes a kind of manager as Train competes as a golfer on a lucrative underground gambling circuit. Miller's oddly personal concern binds the three of them together in an uneasy triangle. Pete Dexter's remarkable new novel brings to life the most violent and tender impulses of his characters as they struggle to come to terms with the difference between a gift and a passion, between their abilities and their desires.
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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'KellleyFrom the Inside Flap:
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.
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Book Description Random House, 2004. Book Condition: New. Open Market Ed. N/A. Ships from the UK. BRAND NEW. Bookseller Inventory # GRP70632919
Book Description Arrow Books Ltd, 2004. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0099469316