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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."