Little Revelations While Reading Jim Thompson’s SAVAGE NIGHT (and a bit about how The Iliad Bookshop is the best place on Earth)

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I found myself re-reading Jim Thompson’s SAVAGE NIGHT, this week. May be my third time, but it is a slim volume and it never fails to pack a punch. I mean, you are set up from the get-go for violence and you wait and wait and when it finally hits… holy hell. The last handful of chapters are a goddamned ride, man. Straight to Hell.

Jim Thompson is a beast. I see other books of his recommended more often, but SAVAGE NIGHT is the one I always come back to. Lyrical and, at times, surreal. And violence that just punches off the page.

And then, that got me thinking how much I probably owe noir, like SAVAGE NIGHT, for its inspirations throughout GRIND YOUR BONES TO DUST. I always jokingly referred to GRIND as “Magic Nihilism” but I think, in hindsight, you could just as easily call it a “Horror Noir” and not be too far off the mark.

Speaking of GRIND, I find it hard to believe that the book will be three years old in October. Feels like it came out yesterday. Too much and too little happened between then and now. Wish I could have done more for the book, but I suppose you always do. Still, it sold rather well for a micro-press title. And it still finds its way to new readers. I think GRIND YOUR BONES TO DUST will have a long shelf life. I hope so, anyway.

If you haven’t read the book, then you can pick it up off Amazon.

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The more I sit and make notes for THE BODY IS A MACHINE THAT MAKES GHOSTS, the more I think about classic noir protagonists. Especially, the real bastards. Like Carl Bigelow in SAVAGE NIGHT. People that know a lot but are fooling themselves that they know enough. Dangerous people, doing things they shouldn’t be doing, dealing with forces they have no right taking on. For THE BODY IS A MACHINE THAT MAKES GHOSTS, that character would be Ridley Gastham.

Ridley, as a character, sits somewhere comfortably between Jim Thompson’s protagonists and Bram Stoker’s. There’s a bit of the conman in him, except what Ridley delivers is the real deal. Think “Professor Harold Hill by way of Hellraiser” and you’re on the right track. A bit of a reverse-Ghostbusters, if you will.

Anyway, that is quite enough about GHOSTS, for now.

I’d like to give a shout out to The Iliad Bookshop, in North Hollywood, California. It’s where I bought my copy of SAVAGE NIGHT (like, over a decade ago). I’d reckon quite a few books in my personal library come from the many, many shelves at The Ilaid. I try to go there any time I am back in Los Angeles (which isn’t much, lately, because plague), and I recommend this shop to anyone who ever asks about good bookstores. Maybe, just maybe, one of my favorite places in all the world. I’d be buried there if it were possible.

Here’s the address, if you ever feel like shopping: 5400 Cahuenga Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91601

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Anyway, that’s it for now. Being off Twitter has been absolutely grand. These posts and my newsletter are definitely the way to keep up with me in 2022. Newsletter folks will get first looks at new short stories and physical copies of ‘zines. Sign up!

 

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