Don Carpenter's Hard Rain Falling is a tough-as-nails account of being down and out, but never down for good - a Dostoyevskian tale of crime, punishment, and the pursuit of an ever-elusive redemption.
The novel follows the adventures of Jack Levitt, an orphaned teenager living off his wits in the fleabag hotels and seedy pool halls of Portland, Oregon. Jack befriends Billy Lancing, a young black runaway and pool hustler extraordinaire. A heist gone wrong gets Jack sent to reform school, from which he emerges embittered by abuse and solitary connement.
In the meantime Billy has joined the middle class - married, fathered a son, acquired a business and a mistress. But neither Jack nor Billy can escape their troubled pasts, and they will meet again in San Quentin before their strange double drama comes to a violent and revelatory end.
"A powerful, uncompromising book, realistically written, brutal in the raw intensity of its action...highly recommended." (Library Journal)
"Don Carpenter is a particular favorite of mine. His first novel, Hard Rain Falling, might be my candidate for the other best prison novel in American literature." (Jonathan Lethem)
“Hard Rain Falling is a unique read; violent, tender, inexorable, and melancholic; a beat-era book of disaffected young men devoid of On the Road euphoria but more poignant and gripping for its fatalistic grounding. The small lives contained herein are indelible.” (Richard Price)
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A Tough Listen