Jim Thompson: Sleep with the Devil

Michael McCauley, Author Mysterious Press $38 (360p) ISBN 978-0-89296-392-8
This biography of crime novelist Thompson (1906-1977) provokes deep interest despite its awkward prose and tedious repetitions. Thompson, a native Oklahoman, is recalled as a courtly, gentle giant by members of his family in interviews with McCauley, co-editor of a collection of Thompson's short fiction. Though racked with guilt about his alcoholism, the writer, we're shown, was nothing like the disturbed characters of his fiction, such as the sadist of The Killer Inside Me . His works received little attention here, but they were popular in France where they were made into classic films. A master of noir fiction, Thompson, a WPA writer during the Depression, was sensitive to the monster that can hide behind a civilized exterior. Much of his work is being ``rediscovered,'' including The Grifters, on which a recent film is based. Photos not seen by PW. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1991
Release date: 04/01/1991
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