Thursday, 5 January 2012

THE GRIFTERS BY JIM THOMPSON

Noir? There's got to be something darker than that to describe Thompson's books. Something that doesn't just imply the absence of colour or light but the impossibility of their ever having existed in the first place. I liked this one a lot, even better than The Getaway though perhaps not as much as The Killer Inside Me. 

Roy Dillon, like most of Thompson's protagonists, is young, charming and crooked. The son of a similarly charming and crooked con woman, he's been living in Los Angeles and working a shrewd set of short-term con jobs alongside the facade of a respectable life. But one day, he picks the wrong patsy and receives a blow to the stomach that causes internal bleeding. 

Vulnerable, he soon finds himself in a deadly love quadrilateral involving his seductive, self-serving mother Lilly, his equally alluring lover Myra, who has a few secrets he doesn't know yet and the innocent but scarred nurse, Carol. 

He's put through the wringer in this novel and he thinks he's decided to go straight by the time it's all over. But things never quite work that way in a Thompson novel and the brutality of the final two twists in the tale left me astonished and a little breathless. I would love to imagine that Thompson was writing about some other species on some other planet; perhaps the most terrifying thing about his novels is that they are fiction with the stamp of truth.

1 comment:

reeferjournal said...

this is one movie adaptation i fully endorse. John Cusack as Roy, Angelica Huston as Lily and Annette Benning as Myra. Probably the only worhwhile film adapation by Hollywood apart from the 2 french ones of pop.1280 (As coup de torchon) and Hell of a woman (as Serie Noire) but only after reading the books.