I was talking about my obsession with crime novels last night at Flames, and I realized that I haven't written much about books in awhile. As usual, I've been clipping along at about a book a week, of course, alternating between "literary" novels and crime books, with a few notables like Kate Atkinson's One Good Turn and Hisham Matar's In the Country of Men edging their way onto my mental catalogue of favorites. Yesterday, however, I dug out our last remaining unread novel by noir-king Jim Thompson--The Grifters--and read it cover to cover, finishing the last chapter or so at the Ear, Nose and Throat specialist's.
Among crime writers, Thompson stands out because his characters are so decidedly small-time, and the picture of America that he paints is so low-rent--dismal boardwalks and pathetic barflies and, of course, sadistic small town sheriffs. The Grifters, far better, like all Thompson works that have attracted Hollywood attention, than the Angelica Huston starrer based on the book, is no exception. It made me want to revisit The Killer Inside Me, a book that is still high up on my mental favorites list, but that I was foolish enough to lend out (never to see it again). I should have known better, of course. The only possible course of action when somebody lends you a Thompson book is to steal it.