I’m now reading Jim Thompson’s The Grifters and will post some occasional observations as I do so.
Only on his second novel proper [giving up on The Killer Inside Me] so still learning, I have quickly discovered that his narrative style here is significantly different to Savage Night, the latter as I have already commented presented in a pulp style, though this even more clearly now a purposeful reflection of the overall demeanour behind its first person voice of Carl Bigelow. With The Grifters it is third person and thus represents Thompson’s voice much more clearly. I will write more on this later.
I won’t be expecting a run of quips, but I do enjoy those I find. Before I quote the one for today, I will add that the focus on sexuality is less macho [marginally…] than in Savage Night, again for the same first person narrative reasons, and it is more brightly playful and sensual – accepting from a male point of view – as at the end of Chapter 3. No, I won’t be quoting. Get and read yourself.
The quip I will be quoting is playful too, but there is a redneck cynicism that is saying more about Thompson as writer than the book’s main character Roy Dillon. In describing the church where Roy first meets his eventual girlfriend Moria Langtry, we get this:
It was one of those screwball outfits which seem to flourish on the West Coast. The head clown was a yogi or a swami or something of that kind. While his audience listened as though hypnotized, he droned on and on of the Supreme Wisdom of the East, never once explaining why the world’s highest incidence of disease, death and illiteracy endured at the font of said wisdom.
I know. World political history has a thing or two to say about that.