- Post by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery
A.I. Bezzerides’ The Long Haul is a minor classic that should be considered a major one. It owes its status to the fact that the novel can be hard to define. Only technically does it fit the definition of a crime novel. When it comes to working class heroes, terse tone and style, and tight storytelling, The Long Haul gives the best of noir and hard boiled a rune for its money with a jaundiced view of depression-era capitalism.
“If you’re up for it, take this hard trip down a heartless highway.”
Bezzerides used the trucking industry he grew up in as a backdrop to his novel. The Benay Brothers Nick and Paul navigate their way through the one-step-forward-two (sometimes three)-steps-back life of produce truckers, fighting sleep deprivation, blown tires, break downs, and dangerous roads. Even worse, they have to contend with the wholesalers and grocers out to delay payment, under pay, or not pay at all. Nick, the hustler of the two, believes their bad luck can only go so long and they’ll catch a break. Fate and the greed of others puts that to the test.
The Benays’ world is perfectly and precisely described. The reader gets the raucous nature of the markets and the solitude of the highway. You can smell the rotting lettuce and taste the coffee, both hot and cold. Bezzerides’ terse style gives our minds just enough to conjure up everything we need to address the senses.
Bezzerides’ descriptions intensify our perception of Nick and Paul’s struggles. Heat bears down when Nick has to haul butter before it melts. Tension that feels like life and death is created when he has to drive an unlicensed truck. Bezzerides never lets us forget the possibility of a breakdown or a wreck.
The Long Haul takes you to the edge with two men hustling a buck in risky fashion, looking for a break in a capitalist jungle that gives few. If you’re up for it, take this hard trip down a heartless highway.
You can find copies of The Long Haul on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.