That's How I Roll: A Novel

That's How I Roll: A Novel

3.6 5
by Andrew Vachss
     
 

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A deeply revealing novel from the master of the hardboiled, Andrew Vachss, about an assassin whose love forced him to kill his own conscience.
 
Execution looms, but no prison can hold Esau Till’s mind. Or his love. He sits on death row, writing his life story—his last chance to protect his brother, Tory, after he’s gone. And, as too

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Overview

A deeply revealing novel from the master of the hardboiled, Andrew Vachss, about an assassin whose love forced him to kill his own conscience.
 
Execution looms, but no prison can hold Esau Till’s mind. Or his love. He sits on death row, writing his life story—his last chance to protect his brother, Tory, after he’s gone. And, as too many have learned, when it comes to protecting his baby brother, Esau Till is a man without boundaries. When the genetic cards were dealt, Esau drew a genius IQ but a horribly crippled body. His brother Tory drew a “slow” mind but almost superhuman strength. Esau quickly learned the only way to guarantee his baby brother’s safety was to make himself indispensable to certain people. A self-taught explosives expert, he became the top assassin for two rival local mobs. Now, as the State prepares to take his life, Esau plots going all-in on the last and most deadly hand he will ever play.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Classic, gritty Vachss, who writes prose you can strike a match on.” —Shots

“It’s brutal, grindhouse and poetic. . . . As if the devil himself had penned [That’s How I Roll]. . . . Vachss is a writer to admire, one that does not shun from showing a world with all of its ugly flaws.” —Lit Reactor
 
“A noir masterpiece.” —Irish Independent

“[A] chilling tour de force. . . . Crafty, strong-willed Esau combines courtly manners, deadly paybacks, and ruthless singularity of purpose.” —Publishers Weekly

“Vachss’s stories . . . burn with righteous rage and transfer a degree of that rage to the reader.” —The Washington Post Book World

“Esau Till has to be about the most unique killer-for-hire ever invented. . . . A great character study of a man with a mission, despite overwhelming odds. His survival instincts and matter-of-fact philosophies promise to remain unrivaled for quite some time.” —Bookreporter

“Vachss’s tough-guy writing style grabs you by the hair and jerks you to attention.” —Detroit Free Press

“This novel could easily be mistaken for a memoir. . . . Both chilling and realistic.”—New York Journal of Books

“Vachss combines his trademark black humor with his longstanding concern for children and their well-being. . . . A smart, cynical glimpse into the human condition.” —Kirkus Reviews

Publishers Weekly
One can count on Vachss being grim whether writing one of his Burke novels (Another Life, etc.) or a stand-alone like The Weight, but this first-person story, which narrator Esau Till makes clear is neither apology nor confession, is grimmer than most. From death row, Esau, who’s crippled by spina bifida, recounts a horrific childhood of parental abuse. He finds purpose in protecting his strapping little brother, Tory-boy, whose only defect is being a little “slow.” Esau later becomes a bomb maker and assassin, carving out a precariously balanced life plying his deadly trade for both of the two crime bosses who share his unnamed community. When the authorities finally catch up with him, Esau continues to plan to protect Tory-boy whether Esau is dead or alive by cleverly playing both sides of the law. Crafty, strong-willed Esau combines courtly manners, deadly paybacks, and ruthless singularity of purpose in this chilling tour de force. (Mar.)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307948670
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/22/2013
Series:
Vintage Crime/Black Lizard Series
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
1,373,529
Product dimensions:
5.36(w) x 7.84(h) x 0.67(d)

Read an Excerpt

Around here, even dying can be hard. Horribly hard. Only death itself comes easy. By easy, I mean frequent. Death happens so often that people regard it pretty much the same as the never-ending rain.
   
When life itself is hard, you have to be hard to live. Even a bitch will cull one of her own pups if she doesn't think he's going to be tough enough—she knows she's only got but so much milk, and there's none to waste.

Survival isn't some skill we learned—it's in all our genes. Nobody needed to be told to step aside when they saw the Beast coming. But not everyone stepped fast enough.
   
There's rock slides. Floods, too. Those are natural phenomena. You live here, you expect them. But just because a man's found under tons of rock, or floating in the river, doesn't mean his death was due to natural causes.

Folks drink a lot. Wives get beaten something fierce. Some of those wives can shoot pretty good. And some of their husbands never think it can happen to them, even when they're sleeping off a drunk.

There's supposed to be good and bad in everyone. Probably is. But here, it's the bad in you that's more often the most useful.

Like the difference between climate and weather. Most folks around here don't view a killing as good or bad—just something that happens, like a flood or a fire.

That's why a whole lot of bodies never get viewed at all.

For a man like me, this is a good part of the country to do my work. I take pride in the quality of my work, but I never deceive myself that every death at my hands is justified, never mind righteous or noble.

I never saw myself as ... much of anything, really. Just a crippled, cornered rat, trying to protect my little brother with whatever I can.

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher

“Classic, gritty Vachss, who writes prose you can strike a match on.” —Shots

“It’s brutal, grindhouse and poetic. . . . As if the devil himself had penned [That’s How I Roll]. . . . Vachss is a writer to admire, one that does not shun from showing a world with all of its ugly flaws.” —Lit Reactor
 
“A noir masterpiece.” —Irish Independent

“[A] chilling tour de force. . . . Crafty, strong-willed Esau combines courtly manners, deadly paybacks, and ruthless singularity of purpose.” —Publishers Weekly

“Vachss’s stories . . . burn with righteous rage and transfer a degree of that rage to the reader.” —The Washington Post Book World

“Esau Till has to be about the most unique killer-for-hire ever invented. . . . A great character study of a man with a mission, despite overwhelming odds. His survival instincts and matter-of-fact philosophies promise to remain unrivaled for quite some time.” —Bookreporter

“Vachss’s tough-guy writing style grabs you by the hair and jerks you to attention.” —Detroit Free Press

“This novel could easily be mistaken for a memoir. . . . Both chilling and realistic.”—New York Journal of Books

“Vachss combines his trademark black humor with his longstanding concern for children and their well-being. . . . A smart, cynical glimpse into the human condition.” —Kirkus Reviews

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