The Deadbeat Club – Part 1 (pages 1- 78)

Welcome to The Word On The Street Book Club!

We’ve selected four great Canadian reads by authors appearing at the 2015 festival as part of our second summer book club. We’ll be discussing the books each week for the next month, and on September 27th, everyone will have the chance to meet the authors in person at Harbourfront Centre.

Share your views in the comments of the blog, using the questions posed by our book club leaders as a jumping-off point for any other thoughts or questions you may have.

Deadbeat Club coverThe Deadbeat Club
Dietrich Kalteis

Book Club Leader: Christine Nguyen

Blog: Padfoots Library

Christine is a 25 year old book blogger who is also a graduate student. She particularly enjoys Japanese contemporary literature and some of her favourite authors are Haruki Murakami and Kazuo Ishiguro. She reads a wide range of books from Adult fiction and non-fiction to YA fiction. She started writing book reviews as a platform to sing her praises for books she really loved and to connect with the online book community. Take it away, Christine!

Hi everyone! Welcome to the start of the book club for The Deadbeat Club by Dietrich Kalteis. I want to first thank you all for taking the time to select this book and for joining me in discussing this book for the next four weeks. I’m so incredibly excited and hope you are too! I will split the book into four parts for us all to discuss. So for this week’s questions, the reading for it will be from Page 1 to Page 78 (The last chapter you will read is titled “…Loose Lips”).

Discussion Questions:

  1. What are your first impressions of the book so far?
  2. Is there a character that you were immediately intrigued by? (I was instantly curious about Travis and I want to learn more about him and his motivations!)
  3. When I first started this book, I was instantly struck by the name of the chapters. Do you feel like the chapter titles foreshadow the events to come as if to set the foundation? Are the titles used ironically?
  4. Immediately I felt the story was more plot driven than character driven because you are thrown into this world and you hit the ground running. Did you find that the events of the story unfolded quickly?

34 thoughts on “The Deadbeat Club – Part 1 (pages 1- 78)

  1. 1. By this point reading I was really lost. I found myself having to go back and re-read things just because it moved at such a quick pace!
    2. Travis was interesting, but I also liked Grey Stevens just because I found him to be the most three-dimensional (I often confused a lot of the characters, like I did when I first read Trainspotting). The way he handles his relationships caught me off-guard from my initial reactions of him as a character, or my expectations going in.
    3. I found myself trying to figure out what the chapter titles meant, and what the author was trying to say with them, or what hints we were getting to the story, but I honestly didn’t dwell too much on them! They did strike me as interesting though, which doesn’t normally happen when reading.
    4. Definitely! I honestly have to remember this book based on plot points and what happens rather than characters, because I don’t even remember a lot of the characters. I found it to be very action-driven, like the plot was happening to people who didn’t really have much of a face or personality to me.

    • Thanks for commenting, Michelle!

      The book definitely moves at a quick pace! I found myself going back to reread the book to make sure I could get everyone’s names right. I also really liked Grey Stevens and you are right about him being a non-traditional kind of character and subverting the reader’s expectations. Do you find that a story more plot-driven hinders how you interact with the characters? If they didn’t have much face or personality because it is more plot-driven, are you less likely to empathize with certain characters?

      • Yeah that’s exactly it – if I’m trying really hard to keep up with the plot and understand what’s going on, or keeping all the characters in order, I find it harder to get immersed in the characters.

        • I am curious to see if how you feel about it will change as you read on. If maybe you will get immersed in the characters by the end because of how plot-driven it is. That you have to focus more particularly on the plot to really “get a feel” of the character. 😀 You must keep us updated with your thoughts as you read-along about plot and character driven thoughts.

          • I think the concept of character-driven vs. action-driven is a really key one for this novel. I’ve read very little crime fiction in my life, so I found the faster pace of The Deadbeat Club refreshing. Having read the whole novel, I find that it does take a while to hit a stride with the characters where you can comfortably understand subplots and motivations, but it’s all the more rewarding because you’ve had to put some thought into it. I found it was often easier to imagine The Deadbeat Club as a crime TV show rather than a novel, which I don’t think is a negative.

            • I was going to post this in the second section — and probably will anyway, but I too have the impression that it would be a really great on screen narrative — exactly as is!

      • Agreed. Rereading helps! Although that one scene where Travis visits Manny has me suuuper confused! Like after he talks to Lexi and says hey wanna have lunch with the new boss, the author writes that he ducks under the lambo doors; and in the next scene he’s driving a Chevy????? Maybe I should have researched cars a little better…. Hmmm

        • Hmm.. I found it was really hard to keep track of time within the book. It felt like sometimes things happened within minutes, but other scenes, I’m wondering “did days pass?” since the last chapter? Perhaps this is deliberate on the author’s part where time doesn’t really have a stable place in the book?

          • It kind of seemed like it was all in one day — welll from about the third chapter onwards because there were random references to the chapter before and time being mentioned within the same breath — I’m definitely going to try and find examples — i’m curious myself!

            • I agree that the timing can be a little wonky. It’s definitely due to the large number of characters that we’re shifting between from chapter to chapter (and within chapters). Maybe dates or times in the chapter titles would have helped with this. I’m rereading the Millennium Trilogy right now, so I’m comparing it to that. Both have a lot of characters and require a strict timeline to help keep everything straight when the action picks up.

              • Actually, I think I figured out the timing stuff, it’s definitely been within a few days — there are definitely references to “an hour ago, this morning” it’s definitely jumping between events in very short periods of time. I think that’s definitely the reason this narrative lends itself to a TV show — but more on that in the next section/Post!

                I just wanted to respond here that I finally got off my lazy butt — there *IS* such thing as a chevy car with lambo doors. It *WAS* one and the same car. I just don’t know cars, lol

      • That’s interesting! To be honest I didn’t even read the back of the book before actually starting to read – so I didn’t really have any expectations with Grey, and that scene where he’s biking off with the plant under his arm and fuzzy hat and goggles had me in stitches. Upon reflection and based on your response though, that’s interesting, if I think about it the scene had me in stitches because just previously he didn’t seem like the type!just another guy in the mix – and then he transforms into this half absent minded half dudebro have clever as f*** business savant really meet character

    • I know what you mean about confusing the characters – I keep having to flip back to earlier to make sure I’m matching the right character with the right attributes and actions. I’m hoping as I get further in, I’ll get more used to everyone and therefore I’ll be better at keeping all the characters straight in my head!

  2. Anywhoo, here are my discussion responses!

    My first impressions of the book so far:
    I think it’s really intriguing, a bit confusing considering there are so many names and so many things happening all at once that it’s hard to keep track of it all – although I am enjoying the random emphasis on car types/colours and who is driving them – that helps a little bit. I’m really enjoying Grey’s random scenes as they do also provide a bit of comic relief.

    Characters: I love Grey, mostly because I am also enjoying his comic relief. When I first read your question about Travis (before I finished reading up to page 78) I was wondering why Travis, as he just sort of seemed like a bit of a Thug, certainly not boring, and a bit clever, but he didn’t really seem to shine all that much. The scene with Nick, however, really brought his character in place. I’m very much intrigued by the female characters! I like how they’re written, although on one hand very typical and clichéd (Lexi, for example) but on the other hand they have some fire in them. I’m looking forward to see how they develop (especially Dara). Relevant observation on my part, of all the little names that are being dropped: Coors, McGoo’s, Scotia Bank, Kraft Dinner, etc. I’m expecting a Tim Horton’s double double to make an appearance !!

    Titles: Some titles seem to be more apt than others, personally, but they are interesting! I think that might also have a lot to do with the fact that I’m a bit lost at times (too many characters to keep track of)… I like how they are short, to the point and the ellipses at the beginning of it gives the title a little character. I think I need to pay more attention to the title choices when I read more of the book. I’d like to revisit this question at the end of the narrative!
    Plot/Character: Its funny, because at first glance it seems very character driven. But the more that you think about it, the more that you realize that no, there are a sequence of events happening, something fairly sinister is happening and as a reader, the author/narrator has placed you in a little moving camera and you end up focusing on different characters as the events are unfolding. Its not about the characters in a sense that as the story unravels you are moving from one character’s perspective to another, and not the other way around. I agree, you definitely hit the ground running (and probably why I’m a bit confused) – I don’t think you can go any slower! I’m looking forward to seeing what happens after page 78

    • Hi Jil!

      Yes, it was quite confusing to start with like Michelle mentioned. I think sometimes going back and reading the previous chapter really helps put everything into context again.

      That is a very good point you bring up about the female characters. They may seem cliched on one hand, but they actually have a lot underneath the skin that makes them tick as characters. I would like to see their ideas and motivations develop even further in the upcoming chapters.

      All the little Canadian tidbits that were randomly dropped it was so fun to internally say, “omg coors!” I wonder if it affects non-Canadian readers where it may not jive with them the same way it does with us.

      Yes, the titles would be a great discussion point to revisit for the end of the book club (Noted and added, thanks for the tip ;))

      • It really makes me wonder you know? I mean it’s an obvious name drop and to me it was similar to other Canadian literature that I’ve read where it’s like , oh look you’re definitely in Canada – check out the mountain the plains, the scenery and environment because that is what makes the background canadiana instead of another american town – but instead of the scene it’s places, things, and cars (why the emphasis on cars??) – but on the other hand why the name drop it seems out of place? (Maybe?) despite our recognition of it. I mean why not: a bottle of beer, or the local bank?

        I suspect a lot of it, or at least the affect (effect?) of doing things like this is that it is part of the differentiating process – similar as to why some characters are written to explicitly state they are female, gay, black/African American, other wise the character could be read as yet another white guy – so the emphasis on Canadian items helps place the narrative within A specific type of locality.
        Thinking about it – that scene ion the first chapter – stating local bank and gas station would make the following statement redundant: the whole none of these venues require a bread truck – but by doing so you instead gain insight into the characters observational skills and personality.
        This is some food for thought for me!

        • That is a really fascinating point about gaining insight into the character’s observational skills and personality as opposed to building the world. Although, it is very action-packed and plot driven, we gain character insight as opposed to world building. Because the world itself is already so vivid and strong? I hope that made sense… haha I just found it to be interesting since sometimes with really good character stories, the world building suffers. But on closer examination, this book offers both upon reflection.

    • I also really liked the Canadian name-drops! I think in a book where I was really confused and not really feeling an emotional attachment to any of the characters, I was totally attached to those references. They made the story hit more close to home than I thought.

      • I agree with your point that the references can be easier to form attachments to than the characters themselves. Interestingly, you know that the characters are attached to those name-dropped items, so the item’s function is really elevated as a key to our insight into those characters. I’ll stop before this gets Inception-level complicated.

        It makes them seem like more normal people. Sure, this kid’s got a whole wack of drug money, but he eats KD like a college student. I feel like these little things ground the novel in between scenes of intense gang violence, like the first chapter.

    • I want to know more about Dara, too – she seems like such an interesting character. I’m loving the name-dropping too haha! I always love seeing the names of things/places that I recognize. It would be so awesome if a Double Double made an appearance lol

      I appreciate the short chapters as well. And I think in a way they add to the quick progression of the novel – when there are shorter chapters, I feel like things are happening quicker and I tend to read more.

      • Agreed! I loved the short chapters. It ends up making the story more fast-paced. The quicker you’re able to flip the pages and fly through the story, the more your heart is pounding as you need to know more and more! Whereas if the chapters were long and drawn out, it would feel a lot slower.

  3. I’m really excited to be participating in this book club! The book is great so far.

    1. I recently started watching The Wire, and as soon as I started reading this book, it reminded me of that show in terms of how gritty it is. Right from the get-go, we’re shown the violence and intrigue involved in the drug world. When someone messes up or makes someone angry, there are very serious consequences.

    2. I was immediately intrigued by Travis as well! I want to know why he’s so ruthless. He seems like a scary guy – pretty intelligent and methodical so far, someone you don’t want to mess with. And he’s proven that if you don’t understand why you should fear/respect him, he will MAKE you understand why you should.

    3. I like the chapter titles – I feel like there’s some dark humour going on with them, which I really appreciate. They definitely foreshadow events to come, but it’s usually in a way where you wouldn’t be able to figure out quite what the chapter will involve just by looking at its title. Take the chapter “…Message in a Bottle”, for example – there are different interpretations of this phrase, but once you read the chapter, you know that the bottle pretty literally sends a message.

    4. Yes! It’s pretty fast-paced. Within the first three pages my heart was racing and I was like, “Wow. This is intense.” I like it when stories are action-packed like that, never a dull moment!

    • Hi Nikki! Thanks for commenting and participating 🙂

      I loved the comparison to the Wire and the description of the book being “Gritty” is perfect. It is a really a different world and we don’t really see the “lighter” side to this world.
      Yes, that is what drew me into Travis immediately. He was ruthless and cutthroat. I’m hoping to see more backstory to him as we move forward in the coming weeks. Grey is the main protagonist but it is also wonderful to see some secondary characters have such a strong position in the text!

      Yes! It kind of reminds you of a crime tv show doesn’t it?

      • We’re definitely shown the dark parts of this business – I don’t know that there are any lighter sides in the positions these characters are in!

        I’m hoping for more backstory on Travis as well! I agree – in spite of Grey being the main character, there are a few other standout, interesting characters.

    • Wow. I totally missed the literal meaning of message in the bottle. I Actually didn’t get the title. Thanks for pointing it out! Lol

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