Nebraska Center for Writers

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Born in an apartment above the Caddo County jail in Anadarko, Oklahoma, in 1906, JIM THOMPSON is a Nebraska writer by virtue of his two years of education at the University of Nebraska (BA) and the time he spent living in the state with his wife, Alberta Hesse. Thompson began his writing career as a reporter for the New York Daily News and Los Angeles Times Mirror. He was also the Oklahoma director of the Federal Writers Project in the 1930s. He worked on oil pipelines, as a steeplejack, a burlesque actor, and a professional gambler. Most famous for hardboiled detective novels like The Killer Inside Me and The Grifters, Thompson was also a successful Hollywood screenwriter, best known for his work on Stanley Kubrick's Paths of Glory, for which he was nominated for a Screen Award from the Writers Guild of America. His first novel wasn't published until he was thirty-six years old. For most of his life he wrote hurriedly. The Killer Inside Me, arguably his best book, was written in two weeks. One year he wrote a total of ten novels. He died in 1977. Of his work, Stephen King has said, "My favorite crime novelist — often imitated but never duplicated — is Jim Thompson." The New York Review of Books has celebrated his work as a "link between popular fiction and the avant-garde Thompson's books are palpably evil with a suggestion of personal menace that is hardly laughable. Thompson loudly proclaims that he is damned and proud of it." Harlan Ellison praises his work as "pure American writing at its best. He had more pistolero savvy than all the so-called great American writers." And The New Republic says simply, "Read Jim Thompson and take a tour of hell."

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Nebraska Center for Writers