Friday, November 14, 2008

Reading Rainbow: Recoil by Jim Thompson

For those of you who may need a refresher or a cluing in, Jim Thompson is the brains behind the books The Grifters, Pop. 1280, The Killer Inside Me, and The Getaway. He also wrote the screenplays for The Killing, and Paths of Glory. I recently read Pop. 1280 and rather liked it, but Recoil, which I couldn't have finished more than five minutes ago, was really great. I will refrain from too much exposition for fear of spoiling the element of surprise, but Recoil follows a paroled con through a labyrinthine mess of shady characters with murky motives in a way only the greatest noir does--unpredictably. Sixty-five years later it reads like it could have been written today, with its protagonist being just hard enough to do whatever it takes to not be a pawn but being just a step behind where he needs to be. The book reads faster than this entry--which I'm cutting off here--but Thompson's hard-boiled prose will burn your eyes into used lumps of charcoal, and that's a lot better than you can usually hope for.

Post Script: While finishing the book and writing this entry, I was watching Brick. If for some fucking reason you didn't see Brick, get your shit together and get a hold of it. It's been on the movie channels lately, but it's a great modernization of the noir genre starring the superb Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

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