- Published: 2017
- Number of pages: 304 pages
- Format: Epub
- File Size: 0.80 MB
- Authors: Bill Beverly
It is the story of a young LA gang member named East, who is sent by his uncle along with some other teenage boys—including East’s hothead younger brother—to kill a key witness hiding out in Wisconsin. The journey takes East out of a city he’s never left and into an America that is entirely alien to him, ultimately forcing him to grapple with his place in the world and decide what kind of man he wants to become.
Written in stark and unforgettable prose and featuring an array of surprising and memorable characters rendered with empathy and wit, Dodgers heralds the arrival of a major new voice in American fiction.
Winner of the LA TIMES Book Prize of 2017 for Best Mystery/Thriller
Winner of the CWA Goldsboro Gold Dagger 2016 for Best Crime Novel of the Year
Winner of the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger 2016 for Best Debut Crime Novel
Winner of the Mark Twain American Voice in Literature Award
Finalist for the PEN/Heminghway Award 2017 for Debut Fiction
Longlisted for Andrew Carnegie Medal 2017 for Excellence in Fiction
Nominated for the Edgar Award 2017 for Best First Novel
Review “Although Beverly evokes the great outdoors with photographic clarity, claustrophobia effectively haunts his narrative…With his focus on people and personalities, the author could justifiably bypass the bigger picture, the heartland rusting to death in the background. But, admirably, he doesn’t.” – The New York Times”Vastly impressive…draws lyric prose out of the unlikeliest of materials.” – The Wall Street Journal“Intimate and intense, Dodgers is a gripping coming of age tale that evokes Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. It’s Bill Beverly’s debut novel—his previous nonfiction book delved into the stories of criminal fugitives—and his potent, direct prose will lure you in from the first page.” – Los Angeles Magazine”I try not to read thrillers because they tend to keep me up to all hours of the night, and I don’t have the time. Bill Beverly’s Dodgers (No Exit Press) broke through my wall of self-denial and, yes, I did stay up late for two nights to finish it. Four black boys in a gang from Los Angeles are given a job: drive across the country to carry out a hit on a black judge. What can go wrong? Everything, of course. The prose is tight, the dialogue rhythmic, the pacing fast, the violence measured, and the ending unexpected. So what if I lost some sleep?” – Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Financial Times”In Dodgers, the tension stays high and reflective moments serve only to give the characters — and the reader — a breatherbefore the next, more exciting set piece, ofwhich there are many. Great ending, too.” – Esquire”In the case of ‘Dodgers’ by Bill Beverly, there can’t be too many accolades. Think of it as a coming-of-age tale with menace and dark sentimentality. A teenage gang member and three cohorts who have never been out of L.A. are dispatched on a cross-country journey to murder a witness set to testify against the gang’s adult leader. What happens along the way and after the fact is, to use my own adjectives, ‘harrowing,’ ‘wrenching’ and ‘redemptive.” – The Sacramento Bee”With the savvy of a much more prolific writer, Beverly plants a powerful conclusion on a powerful first novel. Dodgers is brilliant with no more than it needs–and no less.” – Shelf Awareness”This sweeping coming-of-age story will take you to whole new heights… This is a book in which you’ll hold on tightly to every character.” – Bustle”With characterizations recalling the best of George Pelecanos…Fans of HBO’s The Wire and Richard Price novels will be engaged by the book’s themes of race, identity, and the U.S. class system.” –Library Journal (Starred Review) “Will be one of the most talked-about debut novels of the year. Think Attica Locke’s Black Water Rising or Dennis Lehane’s A Drink Before the War—it’s that good. …This unpretentious literary crime novel will upend your notions of the sort of character with whom you might empathize.” – Bookpage (Top Pick)”A dazzling crime novel that’s equal parts coming-of-age tale à la Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye and travelogue à la Kerouac… Readers won’t soon forget East and his bloody journey of self-discovery and, ultimately, salvation.” – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)“The premise and execution are terrific, and the prose is remarkable: Beverly does more with a sentence than many writers accomplish in a paragraph. East and his compatriots are old before their time, and yet we never lose the sense that they are still growing up, even if their growing-up is like that of soldiers dropped behind enemy lines in their first war… Highly recommended for fans of Richard Price, this is a searing novel about crime, race, and coming-of-age, with characters who live, breathe, and bleed.” – Booklist (Starred Review)”Beverly follows the great tradition of American crime fiction in paring his prose to the bone so that not a word is wasted and his foul-mouthed, funny dialogue rings true.” – The Sunday Express”Dark, edgy and riveting and, for all that, deeply, humanly serious, Dodgers is white knuckles for the mind. I love this book and will closely follow Bill Beverly forever hereafter.” – Robert Olen Butler , Pulitzer Prize winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain“Not only is the fast-paced and masterfully plotted Dodgers one of the greatest literary crime novels you will read in your lifetime, Bill Beverley has also created, in the teenage boy, East, one of the most unforgettable and heartbreaking characters ever encountered in American fiction.” – Donald Ray Pollock, author of Knockemstiff & The Devil All the Time”Propulsive, brutally honest and yet unexpectedly tender, Dodgers is one of the best debuts I’ve read. I was absolutely gripped by the voice, the world of East and his brother, and surprised at nearly ever turn. I audibly gasped at the end.” – Attica Locke, author of Black Water Rising and Pleasantville”Reading Dodgers is like having the veil lifted from your eyes: the world is more vivid, more intense, more exquisite, and more terrifying than you ever knew. Bill Beverly is a conjurer, a poet of the dark arts, and his novel is a spell: when he sends his young drug-world protagonist on a deadly errand in the alien landscape east of L.A.—that fat swath of America known to him only by its names and its shapes on maps—it is you who makes the journey, who is the stranger in a strange land, a watcher who now feels the eyes of others wherever you go, and who must pay the devastating tolls of crossing boundaries. Hypnotic, breath-taking, bruising, beautiful, important, true—choose your adjectives, this is a great novel.” – Tim Johnston, author of Descent“In Dodgers, Bill Beverly delivers with honesty and empathy as he takes us into the hope-killing shadow of LA’s street-level drug kingdom. His prose are a perfect match for young East’s life-altering journey; spare, clear-eyed and with the cutting edge of flint. Beverly leads us into the heart of a young man molded by circumstance and, much as Richard Price’s The Whites, gives a view that will change the way you look at the world.” – Susan Crandall, national bestselling author of Whistling Past the Graveyard “The sentences will snare you, and the story keeps you hooked — a thrilling cross-country journey that takes on the poetry and resonance of myth” – Adam Sternbergh, author of Shovel Ready and Near Enemy “Bill Beverly’s wild and auspicious debut takes off from page one and never lets up. Dodgers, a kind of modernized and urban take on Theodore Weesner’s The Car Thief, is lightning-quick and world-wise, full of pitch-perfect dialogue and criminal misadventure. Most importantly, it’s a lot of fun.” – Tom Cooper, author of The Marauders “Dodgers transcends genres. Its main character East, is part Kerouac’s Sal Paradise, Part Wrights’ Bigger Thomas, and even part Salinger’s Holden Caulfield. The hero’s journey is an American story.” – Ernesto Quinonez, author of Bodega Dreams “Dodgers is a wickedly good amalgamation of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Clockers that stands firmly on its own as a remarkable debut. A Harrowing road trip into the heart of America that will shock you, move you, and leave you marveling at its desolate poetry. A real accomplishment: a book that makes you see the familiar through new eyes. It will stick with me for a long, long time.” – Richard Lange, author of Angel Baby and This Wicked World “Bill Beverly’s gritty and propulsive debut novel, Dodgers, is more than a riveting read; it is a stunning literary achievement. Our hero, East, a fifteen-year old hit man, drives across America on a deadly mission, from the mean streets of LA to the heart of the heart of the country. East is a character as memorable and as haunting as any I’ve met in contemporary fiction. And he’s not alone in that van, but there is room for one more. So hop in, but strap on your seatbelt and hold on to your hat. The road’s a little bumpy—and more than a little terrifying— up ahead.” – John Dufresne author of No Regrets, Coyote“A terrific novel, urgent, thrilling, and dangerous from start to finish. In East, Mr. Beverly has created a character who stays in the mind after the book is finished, an Odysseus straight out of Compton. His venture into the unknown lands of the American Midwest has a classic, mythic shape and scope. And the writing throughout is lovely, economical and exact. You could read this for the sentences alone.” – Kevin Canty, author of Into the Great Wide Open “I knew before I’d gone very far into Bill Beverly’s superb first novel that I was about to lose some sleep, since putting it down seemed to be beyond me. To say it’s a page-turner doesn’t do it justice, though it certainly is. It’s also much more. His characters are vivid and real, and yes, sometimes they’ll break your heart. The world they inhabit–no matter where they may be at a given moment–all but leaps off the page. It’s a winner. So is its author.” – Steve Yarbrough, author of The Realm of Last Chances and Safe from the Neighbors “From the moment we encounter East, a mostly silent kid who “didn’t look like much,” we are initiated into his gaze on the malfunctioning world, a kind of concentrated, exquisite hypervigilance that is both his burden and his gift. It is this quality of attention that makes Dodgers such an intense read — inescapable, inevitable, impossible to set aside. We can no more turn off East’s vision — and the sense of urgency that comes with it — than he himself can, and we are along for the ride. The truth-telling and pared-down purity of voice here are reminiscient of Denis Johnson, as if this novel were not written but channelled. This is a beautiful, extraordinary book.” – Wendy Brenner, author of Large Animals in Everyday Life and Phone Calls from the Dead
Reviews from Amazon users, collected at the time the book is getting published on UniedVRG. It can be related to shiping or paper quality instead of the book content:
⭐ I’m usually not a crime novel enthusiast. But there were many stylistic elements that kept me reading. Beverly has an abbreviated sensory experience to his words. One word similes, single descriptors that don’t tell you what layer they work on—usually because they work on many at once. The compact wording makes for a breakneck pace.I learned a lot from reading this novel. Where I would stop and dwell, Beverly moves forward unapologetically. It worked for the characters I watched travel across the country. It worked for East, the protagonist you wish could have stayed East.You’d expect a novel to have a climactic moment in last quarter, but you don’t expect a novel to gain pace afterwards. The denoument springs you forward even faster, without looking back at the bloodshed. That’s where the novel turned a corner for me. It’s not just a crime novel. This is literary fiction.I wrote a lot more about the effect of the story’s end but it has too many spoilers to publish. I’d hate to see a local author not get read because some stranger who lives in the same city ruined all the fun.
⭐ Congrats to Bill on an amazing novel. I much look forward to a possible sequel. Here’s some of my thoughts on the book.Overall, I’d say that the first chapter was my least favorite. I enjoyed things much more once the main plot of finding the judge kicked in. I actually was hoping for a bigger twist at that point– but it reversed and focused more on East’s inner journey for his fish out of water/coming of age tale.There were some great twists throughout, though a few lacked believability. With some of the minor characters.The prose at times was wordy and unclear– but that’s just nitpicking. This was a GREAT book. It definitely deserves a sequel– but I hope if Bill pursues that, he chooses a strong plot for the ENTIRE novel. The characters are amazing. The complaints about them being unlikable are ridiculous. They have redeeming qualities that help the reader connect.The author did an amazing job at making the lead likable and giving all the characters a unique voice. East was a great character to follow. Same for Walter. Ty didn’t have much to like– but he was interesting– and that’s all you can ask.
⭐ Sure the comparisons to Richard Price are inevitable, but Bill Beverly’s debut novel “Dodgers” signals the arrival of a unique voice on the literary scene. When you imagine all the possible outcomes for a coming of age, gangster, road trip novel, you’re more likely to expect a mess rather than a first rate novel. However, Beverly manages to create a completely original story centered around some memorable characters. The main character is East, a 15 year old drug runner overseeing a lookout crew in the projects of LA. After a police raid sets the crew back, partially the result of the carelessness of the lookout crew, East’s father, Fin, sends him from LA to Wisconsin on a “hit” to kill the judge in an upcoming trial that threatens to cripple the drug empire.East, along with his combative younger half-brother Ty, along with two equally entertaining characters, Michael and Walter, set out from the projects, The Boxes, in a nondescript minivan for Wisconsin with little more than the clothes on their back and some cash. While East is quiet and introspective, Ty is the proverbial loose cannon on the verge of snapping at the slightest provocation. The journey from LA to Wisconsin provides some memorable encounters, especially in Iowa where they are instructed in their call back to LA to pick up their weapons for the hit. However, it is the quiet moments of the ride across unfamiliar terrain that shines brightest. This America is far different from few square miles in LA that East has spent all the days and nights of his short life.It is in the last third of the book that “Dodgers” demonstrates Beverly’s talent. The pace is methodical in a completely positive way. Beverly doesn’t rush the story from East’s transformative encounter with Ty, to when he and Walter’s paths diverge and finally through his isolated walk through Ohio and his work at the paintball facility. “Dodgers” is a remarkably accomplished novel that surprised me for being far more than an action packed thriller.
⭐ It’s hard to give something 5 stars, when you presume it’s competing with the best in literature. But in it’s genre, and for ambition, 4 weren’t enough.I knew nothing of this novel before I bought it. It’s written by a white man, and uses black street language for his characters to communicate. Hat’s off to having the courage to do that. I didn’t find it at all offensive, but I’m white. Somehow, I don’t think it would be an African American, but of course I can’t say.This book weaves in and out of minimalism, which I like. If you’re looking for gang action it’s not for you. Usually, “arty” writing puts me off, but I stayed engaged thougout. I thought about the characters, and wondered what would happen. The Dodgers gives a heavy nod to The Wire, but quieter. It calls Haruf, but as teenage black (boys to-) men expelled from LA. The violence is very well contextualized and it carries a greater impact for it’s normalcy.The story builds a very quiet tension, and pays nice attention to detail. But not too much…all in all plausible, entertaining, interesting, somewhat odd, and subversive. I recommend it.Two small quibbles – the writer doesn’t write women anywhere near as bravely as he writes about another ethnicity (hardly at all and as props). And donuts come out of the fryer, not the oven.
⭐ Beverly’s debut novel “Dodgers” is not a typical crime story. As several young men travel from East LA to the Midwest to commit a crime, we begin to get insight into each character’s life, what brought them to this point in time and how each of them affects the other in ways they’re unaware of.Beverly’s use of the road trip as the means of unpacking each character is done well. There are some pretty incredible insights found here. Violence, social designation, loyalty, family, and the need for community are all explored in ways that I have yet to see in other writers. Beverly gets some Pelecanos references. I get that, but I feel strongly that he stands on his own. By far the best book I’ve read this year, I can’t recommend this enough.
⭐ An unusual coming of age story told in first person pov of East, a 15 year old “gansta” boy in inner city Los Angeles. Although you are horrified at the things he and other members of this gang are expected to do, you can’t help but sympathize with him. The truly terrifying character is his younger half brother Ty, who is only 13 and yet more worldly and dangerous than most men. They are both tragic characters formed by their circumstances and environment, exposed to a rough life that no child should have to live through. Other characters are also well drawn and you get to know them as individuals, not just as thugs. East is an engaging protagonist, who although a criminal, is also a child that has had to grow up too early in order to survive. There is definitely violence, but it’s not so much a crime drama about gangs in the ‘hood, it’s more of a human drama about this one particular boy and his struggle to find his humanity and place in the world.
⭐ I’m debating whether to give Dodges four or five stars. It’s a complex book filled with despicable violence that’s casual for some of the characters while others are so young and have had little guidance with life or morality that they’re unsure how to behave. It has a Lord of the Flies quality where the kids are left alone to run things and they’re more concerned with posturing for one another, grabbing power, and “winning” than doing the right thing. It’s a mystery novel in part but the biggest question is whether all or some of the baby gangsters will learn to lead happy productive lives.The writing is impeccable illustrating the ugliness through a sieve of beauty. The scariest part of Dogers is how believable it is.
⭐ I had expected this book, billed as a young lad from the ‘hood in LA sent into the strange world of Wisconsin to pull off a hit and his discoveries along the way would have a significant transformation with regard to his path in life. I was expecting a transformation and that occurs but not in the way I anticipated. Writing style is fairly straightforward and the tale moves along but the lack of complexity is both a blessing and a curse. Interesting twists in the story and I find myself thinking about the plot and characters days later so would actually like to award 3.5 stars.
⭐ Dodgers is a sort of road story, involving four young guys are sent on a mission by their criminal boss. The main character, “East,” seems thoughtful beyond his years but there in an inherent grace and compassion about him, which sets him apart from the guys he is with (including a half-brother). The story took some unexpected turns which I will not give away here, but I admit I enjoyed coming back to the novel for a few days last week and thoroughly enjoyed it after seeing an ad in the Times Book Review. Reminded me a little of Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem. A well-written and worthwhile novel.
⭐ Dodgers – a first novel by Bill Beverly – was simply outstanding. Riveting throughout. Tight prose, not unlike Cormac McCarthy in parts. Toss in some Dennis Lehane, Richard Price, and Wiley Cash – all personal favorites – and you get this first-rate, exhilarating and surprisingly tender read, for a crime novel about young kids enmeshed in the illegal drug industry. Wonderfully drawn characters, with distinctive dialogue. A propulsive plot that never lets up or disappoints. And, an unfortunate rarity: a perfect ending.
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