Jim Thompson sure can be bleak. Cropper’s Cabin takes place in the author’s home state of Oklahoma, in the 1940s or early fifties. Tommy Carver is the son of a mean-spirited, resentful sharecropper who is barely getting by. Tom is a bright student in his final year of high school. He’s a favorite of his teachers and of the school principal. His girlfriend, Donna Ontime, is the beautiful daughter of the county’s richest man, a Creek Indian who owns the thousands of acres surrounding Tom’s father’s ten-acre plot.
Bad Boy was Jim Thompson’s first take at autobiography. Although he was only forty-seven when he wrote it, he had already lived a pretty full life. This volume covers his escapades through age twenty-three. Thompson spent his early youth in Oklahoma, where his father was a county sheriff and one of the most popular men in town. When his father ran for state office on platform that included a commitment to racial equality, he was run out of town.
Although the plot is a bit clumsy and farfetched in places, this is still an excellent book. As usual with Thompson, he wastes no time getting the story started. Frank “Dolly” Dillon spies the woman who will will be his undoing in the first sentence of the book, and by the end of the first chapter, you know that these particular characters meeting under these particular circumstances are bound for trouble.
I just re-read this this week. What a book! I think this might be Thompson’s best. I forgot how funny it is in places, especially the first few chapters and the chapter near the end with Rose’s tirade about Lennie, which has to be one of the raunchiest things ever printed. How did Thompson get away with that in 1964? This book also happens to be one of the most scathing indictments of Southern small-town life ever written.
1 of 1