Save Me, Joe Louis

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Macrae is living pretty close to the edge in the inhospitable rush of Manhattan. He and Charlie make their bread, such as it is, by a fairly clever scheme of forcing their vitims to withdraw money from bank cash machines. It's not very lucrative, but it's not very risky either. They become involved in darker matters, and Macrae indulges in an incomparably brutal act of vengeance, which is not really his style. Charlie is the one with sychotic tendencies. The pair moves on to Baltimore, where they hook up with a ...
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Save Me, Joe Louis

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Overview

Macrae is living pretty close to the edge in the inhospitable rush of Manhattan. He and Charlie make their bread, such as it is, by a fairly clever scheme of forcing their vitims to withdraw money from bank cash machines. It's not very lucrative, but it's not very risky either. They become involved in darker matters, and Macrae indulges in an incomparably brutal act of vengeance, which is not really his style. Charlie is the one with sychotic tendencies. The pair moves on to Baltimore, where they hook up with a black ex-con called Porter, from whom Macrae begins to learn "the perils of living...an unexamined life." With crime as their livelihood, the three move on to the rural South. It is here that Macrae will rediscover Lacy, an old flame, who will perhaps help him find his balance in his topsy-turvy world of perpetual distemper.

From the bestselling author of Soldier's Joy and Waiting for the End of the World comes a novel about the perils of living an unexamined life that "scratches the underbelly of America's dispossessed" The Detroit News, as two men living on the fringes of society come to grips with who they are and their chances for survival.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Like a steel bearing in a pinball machine, the protagonist of Bell's new novel bounces wildly from one crime to another. Only at the end of his run, overcoming his instinct to react to circumstances rather than create them, does he seem willing to choose his own moral path. AWOL from the service and living in a New York City tenement, Macrae teams up with Charlie to rob people by forcing them to withdraw money from bank machines. As the crimes and violence escalate, they are joined by Porter, a black ex-con, in Baltimore. A botched robbery then sends them to Tennessee, where they live with Macrae's bitter blind father near Nashville and encounter Lacy, Macrae's childhood girlfriend. Another robbery results in four brutal killings and a high-speed escape to the Carolina shore. ``Ain't nobody cares that much what you do,'' says Charlie, who uses that aphorism for license. As Macrae gradually discerns the difference between Charlie's lack of conscience and his own passivity, we come to care deeply for him. Marred by some slow spots, some heavy-handed metaphors and too many coincidences, this meticulously observed story nevertheless grips us with its lucid prose, its keen psychological insights and the author's respect for his troubled characters. Combining the lowlife urban setting and the hardscrabble rural mountain life that feature in his earlier works, Bell Doctor Sleep ; Soldier's Joy remains one of our most talented novelists. May
Library Journal
In his seventh novel following Doctor Sleep , LJ 11/1/90, Bell continues his exploration of the sociological factors that drive aberrant behavior. At its outset, Macrae, a Tennessee hillbilly with an artistic bent, goes AWOL from the army and is wandering the streets of Manhattan, broke and alone. A chance encounter with a streetwise, small-time mugger propels him into a life of crime and ever-increasing violence. Unlike his companion, however, Macrae retains a sense of guilt that ultimately enables him to secure a kind of redemption--with the help of a woman he has known since childhood and a final, necessary act of personal violence. Bell does a marvelous job of depicting life on the seamier side of the tracks and in drawing his characters. Their essential humanness comes through in spite of themselves. Evidence of Bell's growing maturity as a writer, this novel belongs in most public and academic collections and is ripe for translation to the silver screen.-- David W. Henderson, Eckerd Coll. Lib., St. Petersburg, Fla.
Harry Crews
A remarkable read. I encourage people everywhere to go out and put their money down and take this book home.
From the Publisher
“A remarkable read . . .” — The New York Times Book Review
 
“Bell is, quite simply, a virtuoso novelist.” — The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140236330
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/1/1994
  • Series: Contemporay American Fiction Series
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 5.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Madison Smartt  Bell

Madison Smartt Bell (b. 1957) is a critically acclaimed novelist. Over the last two decades he has produced more than a dozen novels and story collections, as well as numerous essays and reviews. His books have been finalists for the National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award among other honors. Born and raised outside of Nashville, Bell’s fiction is often set in the South, or in New York where he lived as a young writer. Bell and his wife, poet Elizabeth Spires, currently live in Baltimore, Maryland, where they are the codirectors of the writing program at Goucher College.

Biography

Best known for an acclaimed trilogy of novels which chart the Haitian Revolution of 1791-1803 (All Souls Rising; Master of the Crossroads; and The Stone That The Builder Refused), Madison Smartt Bell was born and raised in Nashville, TN, and educated at Princeton University and Hollins College. In addition to fiction that ranges from historical novels to short stories to dark psychological thrillers, he has written biographies (one of pioneering chemist Antoine Lavoisier and another of Haitian leader Toussaint L'Ouverture) and Charm City, an idiosyncratic guided tour of Baltimore, where he lives with his wife, the poet Elizabeth Spires. He has taught at the Iowa Writers' Workshop and at Johns Hopkins University and currently directs the Creative Writing program at Goucher College. In 1996, Bell was chosen by the British literary magazine Granta as one of the twenty Best Young American Novelists. He is also an accomplished songwriter and musician.

Good To Know

"Two of my longterm pastimes are martial arts and music. I think this item of fact should make the characters I've written who practice both more plausible. I practiced Tae Kwon Do for 20 years until my knees stopped cooperating. Since then I've been doing Tae Chi -- great for concentration, meditation, clearing the head and restoring the energy, as well as being easier on the joints for anyone over 40. I've played various fretted instruments since I was 11, most recently electric guitar. Anything Goes, my most recent book, is a novel about a year in the live of a traveling cover band. It features a few original tunes cowritten by me and Wyn Cooper."

"Since 1996 I've been importing a few paintings from the Cap Haitien area of Haiti, as a benefit for painters there who suffer from the sharp decline of tourism. and some of these paintings can be seen at http://faculty.goucher.edu/mbell/painting.htm."

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    1. Hometown:
      Baltimore, Maryland
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 1, 1957
    2. Place of Birth:
      Nashville, Tennessee
    1. Education:
      A.B. in English, Princeton University, 1979; M.A. in English and creative writing, Hollins College, 1981
    2. Website:

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