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seriouslyreadabook

Seriously, Read a Book!

Thoughts on books, often interpreted through the high-brow prism of cartoon (read: Archer) references. Wait! I had something for this...

Currently reading

The Sketchnote Handbook: The Illustrated Guide to Visual Notetaking
Mike Rohde
The Antidote
Oliver Burkeman
The Kind Worth Killing
Peter Swanson
Data Points: Visualization That Means Something
Nathan Yau
James Buchanan
Jean H. Baker, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.

The Grifters

The Grifters - Jim Thompson

There was one thing about playing the angles. If you played them long enough, you knew the other guy’s as well as you knew your own. Most of the time it was like you were looking out the same window.

Roy Dillon, grifter extraordinaire, was always playing the angles. Though Roy is undoubtedly our protagonist, though, this really is more of an ensemble piece. While The Killer Inside Me and Pop. 1280 are meditations on (if you can call such depraved tales "meditations") the existence of one twisted mind amid a world filled with easy marks and clueless rubes, Roy is not a lone fox in a hen-house. His mother, Lilly and paramour, Moira, are stars in acts of their own, giving rise to deliciously unpredictable interactions where you're never quite sure who is playing who(m).   

 

This wasn't my first ticket to the Jim Thompson show, so while I was expecting a level of "darkness" that begs for a stronger word than simply noir, what I was not expecting was the elegance of it all. It wasn't so much that the twists simply surprised me, or proved me right or wrong- they brought a level of near-existential reflection and depth that gave a sort of bonus gravitas to an already well-written, highly-recommended, riveting read about ever-precarious life on "Uneasy Street."

For a fearful shadow lies constantly over the residents of Uneasy Street. It casts itself through the ostensibly friendly handshake, or the gorgeously wrapped package. It beams out from the baby’s carriage, the barber’s chair, the beauty parlor. Every neighbor is suspect, every outsider, everyone period; even one’s own husband or wife or sweetheart. There is no ease on Uneasy Street. The longer one’s tenancy, the more untenable it becomes.

 

Bonus thoughts and/or comments:

 

I, for one, didn't know what a punchboard was, so I figured I'd share with the class.

 

Punchboard

 

 

Also, as severe blows to the abdomen play a role in the story, my thoughts quickly turned to Harry Houdini and thus (yes, obviously), Archer

 

Cyril: I’m so sorry I slammed you in the gut. Jeez, that’s how Houdini died.
Pam: Houdini died of AIDS.
Cyril: No! Why do you always say that?

 

That's how houdini died

 

Archer: Medical fact, Cyril. If you get hit in the chest between heartbeats, you can die. Go ask Houdini!
Pam (chuckling): Ask him what, how to get AIDS?