The Delivery Man



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Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>2/5

The main character of this debut novel is the grit and violence of its setting, Las Vegas. The Delivery Man poses as a testament to the Real Vegas, an exposition of ethical poverty and desperate aspiration. Secondary to this bleak world is our guide through it, Chase, a creatively stalled artist who is waiting for inspiration to carry him out of his quarter-life crisis—and his hometown. His much-heralded potential never materializes into success, though, and he becomes the driver (the “delivery man”) for a teenage-prostitution business run by his childhood friends.

McGinniss has obviously done his research, and he comfortably maneuvers through the city’s neighborhoods. And after a while, he manages to balance his commitments to setting and plot, making the argument that the characters’ dysfunctions are an extension of the former. Through flashbacks, he slowly reveals Chase and his friends’ drug-, sex- and tragedy-filled pasts.

But making the city of sin so powerful becomes a problem. Vegas is, according to one character, a “cancer” spreading through the desert without form or reason or moral boundaries. Similarly, this sprawling novel becomes a tiring meditation on an incurably diseased world in which violence begets violence, and escape is impossible. Is it really that bad? McGinniss’s humorless book wants you to think so. With the last glints of hope snuffed out, The Delivery Man leaves an aftertaste of despair, revealing its ethical foundation to be a bottomless and unimaginative nihilism. McGinniss has a gift for setting a scene, but he should come up with a more rousing creative philosophy than “Let’s give up!”

—Jamie L. Parra

By Joe McGinniss Jr. Black Cat, $14 paperback.

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