Today I am sharing my thoughts on Blacktop Wasteland by S. A. Cosby and I have to say a huge thank you to Craig Sisterson for the recommendation. What a book. Here’s what it’s all about:
About the Book
“Bug” Montage: honest mechanic, loving family man. He’s no longer the criminal he was – the sharpest wheelman east of the Mississippi.
But when his respectable life crumbles, a shady associate comes calling with a one-time job promising a huge payout. Inexorably drawn to the driver’s seat – and haunted by the ghost of his outlaw father – Bug is yanked back into a savage world of bullets and betrayal.
Like Breaking Bad in a high-speed collision with Drive, this dazzling novel holds up a cracked mirror to the American Dream – and tells the story of one man pushed to his limits by poverty, race and a self-destructive masculinity.
Where do I even begin? I’m not sure I can. Not sure I even should, that I’m the correct person to do so, even though I’m the one who listened to the audiobook. I just want to write this – read the damned book. Because you really should. It would be a crime not to.
This book has a blend of tension, emotion, drama, action, and overwhelmingly, such an authentic and impactful voice that it’s the kind of book that will stay with you for a very long time. Ostensibly, this is a heist story – an armed robbery that takes a very dark and deadly turn – but it would be a crime to dismiss it as that and that alone. It is so, so much more. This is the story of a man who will do anything for his family. Who strives to be a better man than his own father, but who is pushed to the very limits by debt, taking on a job in a life he had fought so hard to walk away from. Everything about this book, from the opening scenes where Beauregard ‘Bug’ Montage takes part in a drag race to try and win his way out of an impending eviction, is steeped in a kind of choking melancholy, a sense of foreboding pervading everything. Everything feels tense, the setting, the atmosphere, and that building desperation that will ultimately drive Bug to increasingly dark acts, is palpable.
In spite of Bug’s troubled past and his soon to be even more troubled future, I really did like him as a character. You get the feeling of a man really down on his luck. Who had tried to elevate his status beyond that of his parents, had made a relatively decent go of it even, only to see his business, and his fortunes, slowly crumble. He is a dedicated family man, his love for his wife and children so strong that at times the story becomes heart-wrenchingly emotional, and he is a wise and intuitive man. Everything about his situation felt authentic, like watching real life play out on the screen, and I found I wanted to cry out at the injustices he faced. He found himself in a deep whole, partly of his own making, but I still wanted to see him succeed. To make the right choices and to come good, knowing the inevitability of what I was reading meant that a happy ending was far from likely.
There are so many levels to this book – the depiction of family, the hand to mouth living of some of the characters, even the dark shadows of the criminal fraternity that Big ends up being swallowed up by, that it makes it really hard to classify just where this book fits. There are some scenes of heart pumping action that I would love to see on the big screen, as I believe this would translate perfectly to film. I have to say that I mostly listened to the audiobook version of this and have to give huge credit to narrator Adam Lazarre-White who really made the text sing. The way he captured the tone and atmosphere of the story was just so perfect and he really brought it all to life for me. But really it is the author’s voice which shines through, a perfect depiction of setting where the sights and smells feel almost alive, of family, friends and criminals – characters, both good and bad. – that felt so real they were almost there in the skin crawling flesh.
Dark, tense, action filled, gritty, emotional and highly recommended. And it gets one of these.
About the Author
S. A. Cosby is an Anthony Award-winning writer from southeastern Virginia. His the bestselling author of Blacktop Wasteland, a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice and Goodreads Choice Awards semifinalist, as well as Brotherhood of the Blade and My Darkest Prayer. When not writing, he is an avid hiker and chess player.