Item description for The Big Blind by Ray Banks...
Double glazing salesmen Alan Slater and Les Beale are out on the town, doing what they always do: getting hammered and losing money. It all kicks off when Beale trades aggro with some Chinese lads. As always, Alan's on hand to pick up the pieces. But he's getting sick of it. Beale used to be a good salesman and an okay friend, but since his wife left him, he's become a bigoted, fat, falling-apart-at-the- seams, victim of drink, paranoia and his own greed. And to make matters worse, he's about to lose his job. One thing's for sure, Alan doesn't want to be dragged down with him. There's enough on Alan's plate keeping his sales up for his boss and his pecker up for his student girlfriend. But on a dark, rainy Manchester night, a road accident spells the end of his old life and the beginning of a brand new world of shite.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 1" Width: 5.75" Height: 8.75" Weight: 0.78 lbs.
Release Date Nov 30, 2004
Publisher Point Blank
ISBN 1930997280 ISBN13 9781930997288
Availability 0 units.
More About Ray Banks
Ray Banks shares his birthday with Chuck Barris and Curtis Mayfield, screeching into the world on the same day that Roberto Rossellini took his leave. His past careers include gigs as a wedding singer, double-glazing salesman, croupier, dole monkey, and multiple turns as a disgruntled temp. Now he writes books (eight so far, including Dead Money, Sucker Punch, and Beast of Burden) as well as novellas and a seemingly endless list of short stories. He spends his days holed up somewhere in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Reviews - What do customers think about The Big Blind?
Good Pulp Fiction Jan 9, 2006
This story is set in present-day England, but its antecedents are the American pulp novels of the 1950s -- think Jim Thompson and Charles Willeford. If you like those books, you'll like this one. The Big Blind is written in the first person with a protagonist who is not a particulary sympathetic character, but you'll find yourself identifying with him anyway. The fatalistic story really picks up steam in the second half. The author also knows how to turn a phrase, and the novel is not without its humorous moments (although those are usually "black humor"). If this is Ray Banks' first novel, he has a bright future ahead of him. The Big Blind is an excellent debut.
Life Hurts Sometimes Mar 18, 2005
Life in Manchester, England is weighing heavily on Alan Slater and he can't wait to leave the place. In the meantime he works as a double glazing salesman by day and accompanies Les Beale, his friend and colleague to the city's casinos by night. Somewhere in between he finds time for his girlfriend Lucy, a university student and a possible stabilizing influence on his life.
But it's the destabilizing influence who dominates Slater's attention - Les Beale. Beale has a habit of attracting trouble and then relies on Alan to get him out of it. Whether it's drunk and obnoxious in a casino, starting fights with bar patrons or getting home unscathed, Beale has some sort of hold over Alan that he can't say no to and drops everything to help him out. The story, and Alan Slater's future all hinge on the night of a fixed poker game. Beale is playing the game, Slater is at home with Lucy, but as has happened every other time he's gotten into trouble, Beale calls Slater to help bail him out. Slater provides his help one time too many and the ride into hell begins.
Searing hangovers follow drunken nights and Alan's vows to cut his ties to Beale dominate the story as the slow spiral begins to gather momentum. The mirage of happiness in the form of his girlfriend, his job and his health flickers as Beale's influence is stronger than Alan's determination.
There is a boozy, paranoid hysteria about the story, opening with the breathless dread following a car accident in which Slater has hit and killed a dog. The pressure never lets up with a definite sense that Alan's life is always about to spin out of control. Told in the first person we become intimately familiar with Slater's feelings and the incredible lethargy he feels when it comes to standing up for himself. He knows how to get his life on track, he knows who the bad influence in his life is but he just doesn't seem to be able to bring himself to finally cut the ties.
At only 170 pages long, The Big Blind takes us through a lot of angst in a short amount of time. Days pile on top of one another at a furious pace while Slater vainly tries to make some sense of his life. He is a frustrating mixture of contradictions and at times I felt like reaching into the pages and giving him a good shake. At one point he's ready to chuck in his relationship with Lucy because he feels she's smothering him, the next he is bereft at the thought that he's not good enough for her and she may leave him. You can see that he's so close to dragging himself out of the hole that he's dug for himself, so tantalisingly close.
So as Alan Slater stumbles along ruining his life, I suddenly found that I felt as though I had a vested interest in the outcome. I cared about the man who couldn't say no to his friend. It's the drawing out of this empathy that separates the good noir stories from the not so good and Ray Banks has done a helluva job in The Big Blind.
Regals, pints, and punchy prose Feb 14, 2005
After reading an article in Crimespree Magazine in which Mr. Banks exposed the tendons connecting noir to Tom Waits I knew I had to read his novel. It's short, perhaps even a novella but that doesn't matter. It's pure punchy prose and dialogue that puts you into a world of struggling boozers, hard core working class mates whose lives revolve around jolts of nicotine, gambling, and rank violence. Anything to keep their minds off their next sales pitch for double glazed windows. A hint of Glengarry Glen Ross desperation wafts through the story like gas leaking from a pipe. It's about bad decisions and consequences and maybe even about the salvation that love offers. Events unfold in startling ways and there are more than a few good laughs but the characters are the strong suit here. Their noses break and bleed and you can't help but stare. Highly recommended.