Savage Art: A Biography of Jim Thompson

Posted: November 16, 2011 in Crime Fiction Books, Crime Writers
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Jim Thompson: Savage Art

Crimezine loves Jim Thompson. He is the dark beating heart behind some of the blackest noir of the Forties and Fifties. Savage Art is a complex and comprehensive biography of the tragic and troubled figure that was Jim Thompson.

Crimeziners will know that Jim is the man behind such crime classics as The Grifters, The Getaway and The Killer Inside Me, you probably know also that Jim was a full throttle booze-hound who liked whiskey and lots of it. A hobby that eventually killed him.

But Jim was more than just a heavy drinking pulp writer, he lived the life reflected in so many of his books. His Pops was a  Sheriff in Caddo County Oklahoma and undoubtably the influence for Thompson’s Gonzo law men such as Lou Ford.

Thompson spent his early career as a bell boy, dealing dope and booze to hotel guests in Prohibition era Fort Worth. Reckless living led to a nervous breakdown aged nineteen and a spell of hard living ecxcess working the Texas oil fields.

Booze, poverty and a chaotic personal life made it hard for Thompson to make a success of his drive to write. But write he did ,and his bleak and ruthlessly frank take on life inspired generations of maverick crime writers who followed him. Jim Thompson was an outsider, of that there is no doubt and Savage Art is as much a cautionary tale as it is a how to make it happen handbook for crime fiction rebels who might entertain the notion—even for one second that living and dying like Jim Thompson would be a good idea.

Savage Art: a biography of Jim Thompson, Robert Polito


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