25 Points: The Killer Inside Me

The Killer Inside Me
by Jim Thompson
Vintage, 1991
256 pages / $14.95 buy from Powell’s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Lou Ford is a small town sheriff who kills people in extremely gruesome ways (though the language chosen to describe it is subdued).

2. He strikes everyone in town as a moron, and somehow when he starts killing this makes it all the more irksome.

3. Stanley Kubrick called it “probably the most chilling and believable first-person story of a criminally warped mind I have ever encountered.” And he was correct.

4. The novel’s author, Jim Thompson, was known as Dimestore Dostoyevsky, which is also correct.

5. Lou Ford takes a lot of baths and reading this in a hot bathtub is very difficult.

6. Jim Thompson is one of the most intriguing figures to ever write a story about a killer and—unlike most—he does it best in the first person.

7. The ending will probably make you wish you were still in the thick of the narrative, which is either a sign of the novel’s excellence or an observation that ending something this strange and unconventional is not-fucking-easy.

8. Lou Ford takes to bashing around a hooker named Joyce Lakeland, who likes it a great deal and encourages him to keep coming back.

9. Casey Affleck stars in a film rendition of this book that recently came out and although it’s pretty spot on I think you’ll find when reading that some things just cannot translate.

10. Though the convention of the cops being on the killer’s tail plays a part in this book you’re hardly on the edge of your seat wondering about the morality being discussed here; this is, more than anything, a work of art by an artist before it is a poorly-crafted slice of genre fiction. Continue reading “25 Points: The Killer Inside Me”

25 Points: Legend of a Suicide

Legend of a Suicide
by David Vann
Harper Perennial, 2010
272 pages / $14.99 buy from Powell’s

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. If your father commits suicide, why did you write it as fiction?

2. It won 10 big awards and I bought it on EBay for three dollars, the price of half a 6 pack of Icehouse tall boys.

3. David Vann says, “I had this class once with Grace Paley in which she told us that every line in fiction has to be true. It has to be a distillation of experience, more true to a person’s life than any moment he or she actually lived. So this book is as true an account as I could write about my father’s suicide and my own bereavement, and that was possible only through fiction.”

4. Amazing descriptions of Alaska, the land, the ocean.

5. Some say experimental, but my god how conservative we must have become: there’s an abrupt (and startlingly effective) shift in POV, OK? OK.

6. Beer in a can has that metallic taste I enjoy.

7. Camus says, “But in the end one needs more courage to live than to kill himself.”

8. Suicides I have known: Christie, a former girlfriend. Andy, a kid who mooned the class in 8th grade and the suits decided to not let him graduate (a punishment we all believed was excessive even then) and shortly after he shot himself. Possibly my great-uncle ran his car into a wall, purposefully. There are stories. Suicide does not occur often in my family. Other things do.

9. For example: “Out in the channel, the lights of a convocation, twenty to thirty boats drawn together to wait for a storm to pass, for the time when they could leave the shallows and enter open ocean again. Their arrangement puzzled in a way that pleased, also: bright floodlights high up, small cabin lights, globes everywhere across their backs exposing the great nets, buffed aluminum, floats orange and red, all intermingled and reflected on waters calm as mirrors and no horizon visible, no clear seam for the surface, for water and air, reflection and light. And the only sound that of small bells, seeming to come from much further away, the bells high up on the lines of trawlers, the bells that signaled fish. No voices.”

10. I bet David Vann was pressured to make this into a memoir. Oh, I bet he was. Continue reading “25 Points: Legend of a Suicide”

Reviews Section Update: 25 Points

HTMLGiant is now accepting submissions for a new category of book review. “25 Points” will feature reviews consisting of numbered series: 25 facts and/or opinions about a single work. Tangential list items, variations of length, and other deviations are encouraged. Reviews and queries can be sent to brooks [at] htmlgiant [dot] com.