By James Sallis
Reviewed by Loren Michelle Barone
"Much later, as he sat with his back against an inside wall of a Motel 6 just north of Phoenix, watching the pool of blood lap toward him, Driver would wonder whether he had made a terrible mistake. Later still, of course, there'd be no doubt. But for now Driver is, as they say, in the moment. And the moment includes this blood lapping toward him, the pressure of dawn's late light at windows and door, traffic sounds from the interstate nearby, the sound of someone weeping in the next room."Thus begins the full throttle ride that is Drive. Driver works as a Hollywood stunt driver who moonlights as a getaway driver for criminals. When a routine heist turns deadly and he's double-crossed, Driver abandons his strict moral code ("I drive. That's what I do. All I do.") to venture down a startling path of violence and revenge. Author James Sallis delivers an enigmatic conclusion forcing readers to wonder if there's such a thing as a clean getaway. If you love the non-linear storytelling and humorous violence of a Tarantino film, you'll enjoy reading Drive.
Drive is a slim yet satisfying novella full of spare, poetic prose. Weighing in at a light 158 pages, readers can devour this totally original literary gem in one sitting. Although Sallis has written a pulpy piece of noir fiction, one doesn't have to be a hard-core crime fiction fan to enjoy the beauty, sadness, violence, redemption, and power of Drive. Other authors could take a lesson from Sallis' minimalist writing style, realizing literature doesn't have to be locked away in an ivory tower along with self-indulgent writing.
Drive was successfully adapted into a major motion picture in 2011. It's important to note the screenplay by Hossein Amini, although brilliant in its own right, does not follow the exact plot of the novella. Similar themes are explored, but that's where the comparison ends. Overall, the book and film compliment each other splendidly. Director Nicolas Winding Refn's bold vision and the hypnotic motion picture soundtrack elevate Drive to a cinematic pop opera.