Roughneck

Roughneck

Book - 2014
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By the time Jim Thompson was sixteen years old, he had been a newspaper boy, a burlesque show hawker, a plumber's helper, a comedian in two-reel pictures, a night bellboy in a luxury hotel and over a dozen other occupations. By the time he was eighteen, he was driving across America in a broken-down Ford without a penny to his name and his mother and his kid sister Freddie in tow, looking for just one more paycheck to keep them all alive. A bittersweet comedy of a hard-won American life, Roughneck chronicles the many jobs, near-criminal escapades, and downright unlawful grifts of the man who would become one of crime fiction's most enduring writers, in a larger-than-life literary memoir, or wildly entertaining tall tale, as only Thompson could tell it. Hard times have never sounded so good.
Publisher: New York : Mulholland Books/Little, Brown and Company, 2014
ISBN: 9780316403818
0316403814
Characteristics: 204, 8 p. ; 22 cm

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j
jimg2000
Mar 24, 2015

The Roughneck's first book review:

Working an average of twenty hours a day, I finished the book in ten days.  

It got a mixed reception at the publishing company. Some of the editors were very enthusiastic about it; others were just as unenthusiastic. So, as is often done, the manuscript was farmed out to another writer for reading and opinion. This young man was the scion of a wealthy Hollywood family, and the author of one novel. He reported that I showed promise "for a beginning writer" but that I obviously did not know enough about life to attempt a novel. I needed to "meet the stark realities of existence at first hand"—not merely to read about them in books, as (he added) I patently had.

j
jimg2000
Mar 24, 2015

The Great Depression:

It was now nearing the fall of 1930, and the economic depression was tightening over Nebraska. But the nation's political and business leaders still proclaimed it a temporary recession. It was merely a readjustment period, and prosperity was just around the corner, et cetera. To reachieve prosperity it was only necessary to "tighten our belts," "overcome sales resistance" and so on.
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rooms for five dollars a month. There were stores and markets pleading with customers to buy butter at ten cents a pound, choice porterhouse steak at twelve cents a pound and high grade coffee at three pounds for a quarter. Eggs were six cents a dozen, milk a nickel a quart, bread three loaves for five cents. ... Three large hotcakes with sausage, butter and syrup and coffee—for 'five cents!' Roast beef dinner with four vegetables and beverage, for fifteen cents. Ham or bacon and eggs with French fries ...

j
jimg2000
Mar 24, 2015

School of Hard Knocks:

I spent six years in high school, and I got out then only by falsifying the records. As a youth in my first long pants, I was an associate of chorus girls, grifters, gamblers, and other ne'er-do-wells. By the time I was fifteen, I had been variously employed as a newspaper "man," a burlesque show hawker, a plumber's helper, a comedian in two-reel pictures and in a dozen-odd other occupations. With equal ease, I could quote the Roman lyric poet Catullus, or the odds against making four the hard way.        I was not yet sixteen when I became a night bellboy in a luxury hotel. ...

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j
jimg2000
Mar 24, 2015

Labeled as the autobiography of the hard-boiled crime writer whose books that movies I enjoyed to watch are based on: The Grifters (1990), The Getaway (1972), The Killer Inside Me (2010) and others I have yet to see as The Kill-Off (1989) and Coup de Torchon
(2001, French). I can see some of the movie characters developed in this 1955 novel. In sum, what a rough life as a teen to middle age before his first book was published.

l
lukasevansherman
Oct 28, 2014

Along with "Bad Boy," this is Jim Thompson's autobiography, although it seems he may have stretched the truth a bit and you should pick up "Savage Art" for a more sober (no pun intended) look at his life. Recently reissued, pour yourself a triple whiskey, light a cigarette, and tack a trip to Pulpville, population: Jim Thompson. Maybe the best of the pulp crime writers of his era.

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