as i closed this book, i did a web search. i can't find any usage of it, but it's clear to me that mike lester has written a noir noir. that's right. it's dark. shades of jim thompson, david goodis, and raymond chandler imbue it. lester has explored the tropes of noir and hard boiled fiction and plummeted to the dankest deepest corner of them and created his protagonist boyd's little world, a few blocks down. the characters are vivid and familiar, and their motivations are simple and simple to understand: boyd, all of them, are caught up in just trying to get by, by whatever means necessary. some of the violence is pretty shocking: i yelled out a couple of times, and even had to put the book down and back away because it was freaking me out. but i think that's what the author is attempting to do, so i'd say this book is a tremendous success. don't get me wrong, the book, beyond bleakness, has also a poignancy that's very nuanced. it's a very thoughtful book.
i don't recommend reading the lists at the beginning of the book (which i believe the author has said -- hi mike! correct me if i'm wrong -- was part of the publisher's packaging style at publication) but perusing them afterwards, if you feel so inclined. i think to read them first lessens the impact of a very fine novel. also, i may consider some other noir noirs, if anybody knows of any, or mike wants to write some more. :)