Hard Rain Falling [NOOK Book]


Don Carpenter’s Hard Rain Falling is a tough-as-nails account of being down and out, but never down for good—a Dostoyevskian tale of crime, punishment, and the pursuit of an ever-elusive redemption. The novel follows the adventures of Jack Levitt, an orphaned teenager living off his wits in the fleabag hotels and seedy pool halls of Portland, Oregon. Jack befriends Billy Lancing, a young black runaway and pool hustler extraordinaire. A heist gone wrong gets Jack sent to reform school, from which he emerges ...
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Hard Rain Falling

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Don Carpenter’s Hard Rain Falling is a tough-as-nails account of being down and out, but never down for good—a Dostoyevskian tale of crime, punishment, and the pursuit of an ever-elusive redemption. The novel follows the adventures of Jack Levitt, an orphaned teenager living off his wits in the fleabag hotels and seedy pool halls of Portland, Oregon. Jack befriends Billy Lancing, a young black runaway and pool hustler extraordinaire. A heist gone wrong gets Jack sent to reform school, from which he emerges embittered by abuse and solitary confinement. In the meantime Billy has joined the middle class—married, fathered a son, acquired a business and a mistress. But neither Jack nor Billy can escape their troubled pasts, and they will meet again in San Quentin before their strange double drama comes to a violent and revelatory end.
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Editorial Reviews

Richard Lipez
It's been a while since I've read an American story that's so raw and unsentimental but still manages to brim with heart and soul. Originally published in 1966 and long out of print, Don Carpenter's first novel, about crime and punishment, feels European in the way it grapples with big ideas: Why are we here? Who cares?—but it is thoroughly American in its flat, wiseacre, chip-on-the-shoulder prose and in its willingness to discover the humanity in people to whom most of us, if we met them, would give a very wide berth…Hard Rain Falling is that rarity, a novel of ideas that is also gripping and sexy and dazzlingly atmospheric.
—The Washington Post
From the Publisher

"Tarmac-tough dialogue and road-novel deliquent action is customised with a tender intensity about both friendship and sexual passion.  Often savage, never cynical, Carpenter brings gold to the grit."—Boyd Tonkin, The Independent

Hard Rain Falling is a unique read; violent, tender, inexorable, and melancholic; a beat-era book of disaffected young men devoid of On the Road euphoria but more poignant and gripping for its fatalistic grounding. The small lives contained herein are indelible.” —Richard Price

"You always hear that Don Carpenter was a writer's writer, hugely admired by critics and novelists for his brilliance and precision, but every civilian reader I know was putty in his hands once that person opened any of his astonishing novels. He could be hilarious, and he could break your heart and he could write about ego and frailty as well as anyone on earth. I loved him like crazy." —Anne Lamott

"Don Carpenter is a particular favorite of mine. His first novel, Hard Rain Falling, might be my candidate for the other best prison novel in American literature." —Jonahtan Lethem

"Carpenter's masterpiece, long out of print, is the definitive juvenile-delinquency novel and a damning indictment of our justice system that is still relevant today." — George Pelecanos, The Village Voice

"Carpenter's prose is all muscle and sinew." —Newsweek

"Don Carpenter combines a reporter's eye for external detail with a novelist's sense of inner depts." —Los Angeles Times

"Hard Rain Falling roars through dim Western streets like an articulate Hells Angel looking for a fight... The book is tough and vital, built with slabs of hard prose." —The New York Times

"Hard Rain Falling is Last Exit to Brooklyn amended but unaltered by cries of affection under the heap of warped and busted souls." —The New York Times

"Full of lyrical evocations of a lost working-class San Francisco, the novel also contains possibly the best two-page drunken celebration of cheap, corny, vulgar, un-cleaned-up Market Street ever set in print." —The San Francisco Chronicle

"A powerful, uncompromising book, realistically written, brutal in the raw intensity of its action...highly recommended." —Library Journal

"Mr. Carpenter's debut is most auspicious. He is a serious writer." —Book Week

"Not since...Last Exit to Brooklyn has there come a first novel of such extraordinary impact. It shouts for readers." —Cleveland Plain Dealer

"He chills us with documentation...an imaginative work...boldly executed." —The New York Times Book Review

"Don Carpenter is a natural...a tough but compassionate soul...an absolutely honest writer who never strikes a false note." —Robert Brustein

"Full of passionate intensity...rough and tumble picaresque." —Charlotte Observer

"A violent, action-filled...first novel by an explosive 34 year old San Francisco writer...This tough guy novel that explores an underworld is a work of real accomplishment." —The San Francisco Chronicle

"Carpenter was a straight man to the more illustrious neo-Beat and -Dada artists of the era ... a steadying antidote to the counterculture bedlam of the tumultuous 1960s and beyond.” —Douglas Brinkley, The New York Times

The Barnes & Noble Review
First published in 1966, Don Carpenter's gritty debut novel covers a lot of ground. Poolroom drama, boxing tale, and prison saga, this West Coast narrative is Walter Tevis, Leonard Gardner, and Edward Bunker all rolled into one, with side glances at San Francisco's bored rich and Hollywood's wannabes. Despite its hard-boiled title, Carpenter's street-smart narrative owes more to 19th-century naturalism -- with its sense of the inescapable consequences of poverty -- than it does to the spare prose of the '50s.

Orphaned by a pair of losers, Jack Levitt hits the asphalt young and never looks back. From his corner boyhood in Portland, Oregon, to his job as car park attendant in San Francisco, Jack seldom scores a break. Even marriage to a sophisticated young beauty ends in divorce and a drunken binge. Along the way, Jack endures the horrors of juvey hall and then serves real time on a trumped-up charge of kidnapping. In jail, he re-encounters a youthful buddy, the black pool hustler Billy Lansing, who, in a brutal act of violence, affirms his genuine love for Jack. This biracial prison affair forms the spiritual core of the novel -- the only hope in an otherwise bleak social landscape.

Carpenter (1931-98) sets his novel mostly in the '50s, which provides a further poignance to his protagonist's sense of guilt, despair, and -- quite simply -- boredom. What's Jack rebelling against? What do you got? Carpenter's candor about race and sex, along with some clever asides about art and life, make for a truly unpredictable and therefore essential read. --Thomas DePietro

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590173909
  • Publisher: New York Review Books
  • Publication date: 6/23/2010
  • Series: New York Review Books Classics Series
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 170,733
  • File size: 450 KB

Meet the Author

Don Carpenter (1931–1995) was born in Berkeley, California, and grew up on the West Coast. He served in the air force during the Korean War, attended the University of Portland, and received a B.S. from Portland State College and an M.A. from San Francisco State College. Carpenter, his wife, Martha, and their two daughters settled in Mill Valley, near San Francisco, and he became good friends with the local writers Evan Connell and, especially, Richard Brautigan. His first book, Hard Rain Falling, was published in 1966 and was followed by nine other novels as well as several collections of short stories. Carpenter also wrote for the movies and television and spent a good deal of time in Hollywood, the subject of several of his novels. Plagued by poor health in his later years, he committed suicide at the age of sixty-four.

George Pelecanos is the author of sixteen novels and was a writer, story editor, and producer on the HBO series The Wire.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 11, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    An unforgettable emotional ride.

    Wow! I can't beleive that I never heard of this book. Don Carpenter has a way of writing that makes you love and hate at the same time. The story is very thought provoking and has a steady pace through out. I would recommend this book when you have a lot of time to read, because you won't want to put it down.

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    Posted February 8, 2011

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    Posted September 14, 2010

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