Saturday, March 16, 2013

Review: "Savage Night" by Jim Thompson

Jim Thompson is a national treasure. He writes about the ways in which alienation and loneliness permeate our society and manifest themselves in spectacularly brutal and nasty ways, that even though he is most famous for being a crime novelist, he should be spoken of in the same sentence as a Faulkner or Hemingway. The feelings he puts down, no matter how disturbing and disquieting, are very heartfelt, and come from a place that is distinctly American. His prose style manages to be both poetic in its viciousness, but readable in how cinematic it comes off, which is why so many of his books have been adapted into successful movies. But with a person who wrote as much as Thompson did, their was bound to be some books in the bunch that are not very good, especially compared to his great works, and Savage Night is one of them. I get the feeling this was written for a solid paycheck, despite the fact that it may have the weirdest ending that Thompson ever wrote. It is simply a minor work in the canon of someone as prolific as he. The protagonist is Carl Bigelow, who may be a kid fresh out of college or a stone killer out for blood. He holes up in a dirty motel, awaiting orders from an unseen boss, while he has his eyes on a woman who probably isn’t the best fit for him, but in Thompson’s world, no one is. It has a few funny lines of dialogue and brutal scenes of violence, including a graphic stabbing scene, but it is all toned down in a way that makes you want Lou Ford in ways you really shouldn’t. Even with a wild, bizarre ending, this book is still a tiny footnote to a great career.
Rating: 3/5

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