Saturday, August 8, 2009

Blogging The Black Lizard Anthology of Crime Fiction: This World, Then Fireworks

Since Victor Gischler deprived you of a review of The Deputy, by jumping ship from Bleak House to Tyrus Books, and pushing publication back to April, I'm bringing back my thoughts on the Black Lizard Anthology of Crime Fiction. This week, "This World, Then Fireworks" by Jim Thompson. I have read much of Thompson's better known work, but I'm no expert. Much of his work is said to be uneven, and this posthumous work is a real head scratcher. I'm not sure if it's some sort of half-assed throwaway, a work of twisted, bilious genius, or a combination of the two. It's definitely going to bear another reading.

TWTF focuses on Marty and Carol, an incestuous brother and sister couple who obviously had, a troubled childhood, although the nature of their trauma isn't clear at the beginning. Marty has left his dying wife and kids to return home, after having been fired from a reporting gig for trying a little blackmail. Carol, who has been taking care of their elderly mother, is a whore. When Marty comes back to town, he gets a job with the local paper, gets promoted in record time, and then resigns, because he's perverse. Then he picks up a lady cop, and, well, the story's kind of a mess, and trying to explain it all would just confuse you. It does, in the end, make a twisted sense, to Thompson's credit, but many elements are too convenient, and feel lazy and rushed. There are still, however, moments of genius, like Marty's musings as he wonders through a cemetary:

"Yes, hell. Yes, oh God, yes, it was a wonderful place. The City of Wonderful People. Everyone in it was everything that everyone should be. Some has a little more on the ball, of course, than others; there was one guy, for instance, who was only humble. But think of that! Think of its possibilities! Think of what you could do with a guy like that on a world tour. Of if war prevented, as it indubitably would, you could put him on television. A nation-wide hookup. You could go to the network and say, look, I've go something different here. Something unique. I've got a guy that's-No, he doesn't do card tricks, he's not a singer or a dancer. Well, he does have a sense of humor, but he doesn't tell-No, I'm afraid he doesn't have big tits and his ass looks just like yours and mine. What he's got is something different. Something there's a hell of a need for. And if you'd just give him a chance. They'd never go for it. You'd have to nail him to a cross first. Only here, in The City of Wonderful People, was the wonderful wonderful."

What else is there to say?

1 comment:

Cullen Gallagher said...

I think it's one of his most haunting, uninhibited tales. Thompson concentrate.