Train: A Novel

by Pete Dexter

Hardcover, 2003

Call number




Doubleday (2003), 288 pages


Train is an 18-year-old black caddy at an exclusive L.A. country club. He is a golf prodigy, but the year is 1953 and there is no such thing as a black golf prodigy. Nevertheless, Train draws the interest of Miller Packard, a gambler whose smiling, distracted air earned him the nickname "the Mile Away Man." Packard's easy manner hides a proclivity for violence, and he remains an enigma to Train even months later when they are winning high stakes matches against hustlers throughout the country. Packard is also drawn to Norah Still, a beautiful woman scarred in a hideous crime, a woman who finds Packard's tendency toward violence both alluring and frightening. In the ensuing triangular relationship kindness is never far from cruelty. In Train, National Book Award-winning Pete Dexter creates a startling, irresistibly readable book that crackles with suspense and the live-wire voices of its characters.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member LukeS
Packard, a war hero returning from the Pacific Theater, joins the police force in Southern California. It seems, though, he has returned in a kind of personal fog, or limbo. Outward signs are that he's only interested in sensations, wants to test various things to see if he can feel an emotion. He
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golfs with some lowlifes, but meets a black jockey names Lionel - called "Train" - who, it turns out, is also a brilliant golfer.

This is a book about racial prejudice and segregation in Southern California after the War. The blurb on the back cover is true: Pete Dexter's writing cuts to the bone. There are no holds barred here. Packard takes justice into his own hands - good thing too, because it's one of the few areas where he can exercise judgment. Packard, called "Miles Away Man" by Train, is finally snapped back into the human race when after a tumultuous argument with his wife, she shoots his lower leg with a shotgun, after which he finally shows emotion and breaks down into tears.

"Train" is hard-edged, honest, and deft at the same time. Dexter is a virtuoso. Pick this up and read it - I assure you you won't regret it.
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LibraryThing member jeffsdfw
Pete Dexter will move you in more ways than you will imagine.

Train is one of those novels that stay with you long after you have turned the last page.

It's hard for me to write about whats in the book, because I don't want to give it away. I recommend that you read this!
LibraryThing member nivramkoorb
This is the 3rd book that I have by Dexter. He has a unique voice and style. His writing is sparse but he an ear for dialogue and gets inside the heads of his characters that bring out many viewpoints of the situation. This book takes place in 1953 in L.A with a beginning that takes place in Philly
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in 1948. The main characters are Millard Packer, a veteran of World War II who has seen much and is a risk taker and thrill seeker. In 1953 he is a policeman(but always seem to be not working). The other main characters are Lionel Walk(Train is his nickname) who is an 18 year old black man and a golf caddy at an L.A Country Club. Packer and Train cross paths at the golf course when Packer is playing a member that Train is caddying for and they are gambling. Eventually Packer sees that Train is a natural at golf. The book brings in the third character Norah, the young wife of a club member. She and her husband are victims of attempted sea hijacking that goes wrong. This brings Packer into the story again this time with Norah. The book moves back in forth between these characters along with other minor characters. You see all the racism that existed in LA at that time. Eventually all 3 of them come together moving towards the book's climax. Lots of violence and dealing with both the rich and the poor. A good read at around 300 pages. Dexter did win a National Book Award for "Paris Trout" and I am sure I will go back and read some of his other books. An author that many people don't know about but someone worth reading.
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LA Times Book Prize (Finalist — Fiction — 2003)




0385505914 / 9780385505918
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