An alt.politics.socialism.trotsky reply to "The Big Clock"

Julio Fernández Baraibar julfb at
Thu Oct 28 12:48:05 MDT 1999

I am too an admirer of Jim Thompsom. I have read him only in spanish, the
books that are translated in spanish.
There is a little typo in the message of Otto. The name of one of the best
novels of Thompson was "Pop.1280" and not "1060" as he wrote. This book is
incredibly fantastic. The moral entropy that he perceives in the deep of the
american capitalist society is exposed, as in laboratory, in a very little
city and the result is a kind of pressure pot in which the tension is
intolerable. There is a french filmed version "En coup de touchon", I think,
with this enormous actor that Philippe Noiret is. And the interesting in
this version is that the director, which name has disappeard from my each
day weaker memory -do you remember when we spoke without stopping? uses to
say a friend to me- adapted the moral climate of the novel in the french
colonial world and it functions perfectly. The moral decadence is exposed
almost better than in the little inferno of Thompson.
And the vocabulary of this novel is wonderfuly dirty. Nobody speaks in a
decent way. The poverty of the language is related with the poverty of this
Thompson was the script writer of two great films of Stanley Kubrick: The
Killings, 1956 (El atraco perfecto, in spanish) and the unforgettable Paths
of Glory, 1957 (Senderos de Gloria, in spanish). Fortunately he was so
unknown during the activities of Mc Carthy that he was not in the black
lists. That explains his collaboration with Kubrick.
Carlos Sampayo, an spanish specialist on the hard boiled genre writes that
he has had four "temas" or arguments in his work: the decomposition of the
social body, the relativity of the moral values in the personal relations
under the capitalism, the absence of explanation of the pathological
behaviors and the disolution of the family nuclei as the base in which the
american society lies.
Jim Thompson is, undoubtedly, great.

Julio F.B.

> I found this article fascinating. One of my favorite writers is Jim
> Thompson. A high school drop out he worked as a powder monkey on Texas
> oil wells for a while where he became acquainted with the IWW. Later he
> joined the CPUSA. As a member of the CP in Oklahoma during the 30s and
> 40s he was a close associate with Woody Guthrie and Louis L'Amour and a
> key figure in the Oklahoma chapter of the Federal Writers Project which
> in Oklahoma City was dominated by  members of the CP. After comming to
> California in the early 40s he wrote some of the darkest novels ever
> written during the late 50s and early 60s. Among his best works were
> *The Killer Inside Me*, *A Swell Looking Babe*, *Savage Night*, *The
> Getaway*, *Recoil*, *The Grifters*, and *Pop. 1060.* *The Killer Inside
> Me* was the first novel to be narrated from the point of view of a
> psychotic, a device that became very popular later on. Except for his
> first and largely autobiographical novel, *Now and On Earth* his
> political views are difficult to discern in his work. Most of the
> characters in his books are thouroughly unsympathetic and he has no
> happy endings. The miserable condition of humanity expressed in his
> work appears more innate than the result of capitalist exploitation.
> After all, serial killers, scam artists, grifters, corrupt law
> enforcemnt officials and politicians, etc. all existed in large
> quantities in the USSR during its entire existence.
> J. Otto Pohl
> Louis Proyect
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