OUT OF THE GUTTER 11/17/2015
Josh Stallings has a habit of writing books that elicit strong emotions from his readers. The Moses McGuire series deals with topics that are heavy-handed, leaving most readers feeling righteous indignation towards the treatment of some of his secondary characters. His ability to elicit these strong emotions is what made the Moses’ trilogy such a favorite to lovers of dark, hard-hitting fiction.
Stallings, who commented that the Moses’ trilogy took a lot out of him emotionally, takes a shot at writing a “softer” novel, Young Americans, a straight-up heist novel that takes place in the 70s. The big question for me was could the magic he displayed in his previous books carry over into this one, or would taking away the brutal subject matter render him less effective.
Sam is an accomplished thief. Taught to crack safes and live a life of crime by her grandfather and her father, she enjoys the criminal upbringing until her father gets sent to prison for life. Losing her father causes her to rethink her choices, like moving away from her family and barely eke out a living as a stripper in Humbolt County. After she vouches for a boyfriend in a drug deal, she’s left holding the bag. She winds up in debt to a big time criminal and forced to reconnect with her old crew to pull off the robbery of a mafia owned nightclub to pay off her debt.
Stallings’ amazing writing talents are on full display throughout this fast-paced story. His characters do more than just appear in the book, they jump off the page and come to life. Stalling has a way of making each character unique in their motivations, yet meld them together. And they work well as a team in planning the heist.
As with his previous three novels, Stallings knocks this one out of the ballpark. Like an accomplished actor switching roles from a heavy drama to a more light-hearted role, he makes you forget about his previous body of work and you become immersed in the new world he has created. This world is a lot of fun and it’s a blast from start to finish. Stallings shows his readers they need not worry what subject he chooses to tackle; they need only buckle up and enjoy the ride.
Reviewed by Derrick Horodyski
1976 New Year’s Eve, San Francisco. A Firebird transports a crew of glitter kids away from the city. Forget the trunk full of cash and illegal firearms. Forget the disco heist and sea of felonies left in their wake. They are five friends happily rolling down thunder road with no horizon in sight. They are YOUNG AMERICANS.
“Like the era it celebrates and critiques, Josh Stallings’ Young Americans is excessive, brash, morally complex, and full of wonderful freaks, wicked cars, and great music. Get down on it.” – Charlie Huston
“A tremendous book — tough, funny, totally convincing, and even (in places) sweet. It’s good enough to make the book’s patron saint, David Bowie, proud. Josh Stallings is an original.” – Tim Hallinan
“Young Americans is a stone cold blast. Josh Stallings has created a heist novel that captures the glam/disco era of the 1970s and inhabited with dynamite characters. This book rocks.” – Johnny Shaw
“Drugs, guns, cars, and sex! This wild ride back to the 70’s careens along so fast that you brace yourself for the crash that’s bound to come—but like an Elmore Leonard master caper, nothing is what its seems, and the reader wins.” – Terry Shames
“A wild heist, some sweet and some not-so-sweet love, a lot of glam rock and a little disco, Josh Stallings’ Young Americans is superb and sexy. Gritty, and yet still lyrical, it’s a glimpse over our collective shoulder – and it feels real, feels like this flashy past is just barely behind us, for all the good that it means to move on, and for the all the pangs every generation feels for what’s lost that was so very cool.” -Jamie Mason
“Josh Stallings delivers a heist caper glitter bomb, a moonage daydream set in a dirty teen world of amyl hits and glam rock kicks, a blast from start to finish with a heart bigger than a ’73 Cadillac blinged out with shag carpet and leopardskin seats. My favorite book of the year.” – Thomas Pluck
“Anyone who’s read the Moses McGuire books or All the Wild Children knows Josh Stallings ain’t fucking around. His books knock you about the head and heart and leave bruises you remember fondly. What they may not yet know is just how much unbridled fun he’s capable of having. A star-spangled disco ball refracting sex, thugs and rock and roll, The Young Americans sparkles and flashes like a glitter-dipped nightstick catching the dawn’s early light before kissing you upside the head and sending you into a blissed-out sugar-nap you can take again and again. Hey, all you young dudes, take a walk on the wild side and find out if there’s life on Mars. Fuckin-A.” – Jedidiah Ayres