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
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
753,103
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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Meet the Author

Andrew Vachss is a lawyer who represents children and youths exclusively. His many novels include the Burke series and two collections of short stories. His books have been translated into twenty languages, and his work has appeared in Parade, Antaeus, Esquire, Playboy, and The New York Times, among other publications. He divides his time between his native New York City and the Pacific Northwest.

The dedicated website for Andrew Vachss and his work is www.vachss.com.

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That's How I Roll 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
BookSakeBlogspot More than 1 year ago
Book Review (ARC) That’s How I Roll is an excellent book. Esau and Tory are brothers, born of an incestuous relationship between their father and sister. They are perfect compliments of each other. Tory has superhuman strength, but is mentally slow, while Esau has a genius IQ, but is confined to a wheelchair due to spina bifida. In an effort to protect his brother and ensure his future safety, Esau takes to building bombs and provides his services to rival mobs in the area. It’s only a matter of time until Esau finds himself on death row. It is from here that he reveals to the reader that he has one last trick he has up his sleeve. This book packs a punch. I didn’t quite know how to feel about Esau most of the time because he’s indirectly killing many people just to protect his brother, but I still hoped he and his brother would come out on top. Then Esau lands himself in jail where he’s no longer going to be able to protect him anyway – at least not personally – so that was a little disappointing. I just think it’s a really cool idea for a story; I love that there’s no real hero and everyone has blood on their hands. The relationship between Esau and Tory’s father and sister is creepy, though. I had a hard time with that bit, but only because it’s so disgusting to imagine. Overall, the characters were really well-written and relatable, even though the circumstances are far from normal. That’s How I Roll is one of the better books that I’ve read in a while and I highly recommend it to anyone who’s into mystery/suspense novels. I wish that I had an actual copy of this book, so I could read it again right now. Reviewed by Brittany for Book Sake.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SUEHAV More than 1 year ago
I love the Burke novels & have read most of them [I'm 66 & female] This one though not a Burke is one of my favorites.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Smiles a little. "Of course. Cuz thats who you are." Padded bck.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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