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3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  369 ratings  ·  21 reviews
The incorrigible Jim Thompson tells the true story of his literary education, as he retraces his wild swath across America during the Great Depression and World War II. Whether he's outrunning railroad bulls or getting drunk in a funeral home, shaking down debtors or drafting a manuscript with the help of a bighearted prostitute, Thompson is a mesmerizing guide to hard tim...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published May 26th 1998 by Vintage (first published 1954)
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Reviewed in conjunction with La Douleur

Sometimes you read a book that makes you feel ashamed of your life, every time you thought you were unlucky or that you deserve more or that you should get more. Whatever you have suffered, however genuine it be, suddenly becomes as nothing, its place clearly fixed in the universe as the measliest dot the world ever has seen. Roughneck does that. It describes a portion of his life in the pared down, straightforward way Thompson tells all his stories. Nothin...more
Bob Mackey
Roughneck, the follow-up to Thompson's Bad Boy (1953), picks up where the first chunk of his autobiography left off by tracing the author's path from hard-scrabble day laborer to paid writer. And just like Bad Boy, Roughneck takes an anecdotal approach, with each chapter acting as a slightly exaggerated Grandpa Simpson-esque tale about getting by during The Great Depression.

While some of these stories stretch the limits of credulity, Thompson portrays himself as a compassionate, understanding m...more
Raegan Butcher
Sequel to "Bad Boy" following the author's years as an oilfield worker, among other things.
Tim Mayer
One of my weekly enjoyments is book shopping through the local thrift stores. Every now and then, I will find something good. I haven't found much to sell on Ebay; the competition for those finds are fierce. But it can be rewarding to locate some dusty paperback you've always wanted to read, just never had the time, money or inclination. I really need to actually pull the books out of the pile and start reading The Harrad Experiment, The Sterile Cuckoo, or Death Turns A Smile before they disinte...more
This book was part of the "LET'S TALK ABOUT IT OKLAHOMA EXPERIENCE: THE 1930's" Discussion group. I loved the book but hated the ending. It was actually a collection of vignettes that may have been real or fiction. It was hard to tell. I enjoyed having to opportunity to hear about Oklahoma during the depression. I imagined my father living with the events that were described in this book and wondered if he knew Jim Thompson. The adventures were sad yet funny as told by Mr. Thompson. The writing...more
Part biography, part fiction, but it's tough to tell where he draws the line. This is pulp writer Jim Thompson's sort-of-life story, where he works in a variety of jobs (mortician's assistant, newspaper writer, oil fields, etc.) and trying to keep his and his family's heads above water while continually writing and trying to make it big. Engrossing, although the ending wasn't so much of a conclusion as just a dead stop. I think his out-and-out fiction is much better.
Emma Lynne
oh Jim Thompson you never seem to let me down. This collection of "semi-autobiographical" stories was a quick read. Thompson has a way of making the insane & absurd seem so normal, believable, and true, that I found myself wondering how much of this was actually embellished and how much of it was understated. It's interesting to see the seeds of other novels in these stories, as well.
Grig O'
At the end of Bad Boy i was left wanting more, and this is it. By the end of Roughneck you have a general picture of Thompson the man - he doesn't let you see more than you need to, but there are many moments of surprise. Together with Bad Boy they make a 5-star life story of a 5-star man.
Benoit Lelievre
You get what you pay for I guess. "Selected Stories from Jim Thompson's life, told by the author". Some are downright hilarious, some are ordinary and borderline miserable. Still, great insight on how a man like this came to revolutionize noir. I appreciated it, but I'm sure his novels are better.
Jul 02, 2009 Liz rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: lovers of noir and hard boiled mysteries
You read a Jim Thompson novel and wonder why he is so dark, then you read his autobio and say oh, that's why. Incredible story of (barely) surviving the depression as a writer and a ne'er do well. Intense. (and short!)

I just re-read it, which is unusual for me. As good the second time.
Jim Thompson lays out his life in short terse sentences without apologies and very little moralizing, just trying to make ends meet in very tough times along with a cigarette a drink and a touch of humour here and there.

Highly recommended.
Jul 02, 2008 Andy rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: hard working stiffs
Shelves: pulp-fiction
Kinda sorta the sequel to "Bad Boy" and reminiscent of Bukowski's "Factotum" where he recalls all the crummy jobs he had to toil at before penning his brilliant noir classics. I worked a lot of similar gigs that he did = misery loves company.
It's an autobiography, and surprisingly ho-hum, considering the author's manic way-up, way-down, hardscrabble life.

Read all the fiction, and if you still need the cure, this'll do it.
Arpad Lep
Apr 07, 2008 Arpad Lep rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: thompson fans
Shelves: fiction
this is the semi-true semi-passed on autobio bio book. read this after you are done reading thompson books, because it kind of has the seeds for a lot of his other books in it.
Shane Baker
The 2nd memoir after [ book: bad boy]. Jim Thompson was a hardboiled pulp writer, and these books are the story of him barely surviving during the great depression.
Gerard Milewski
The only thing better than his novels, which are universally enjoyable, is reading this autobiography and realizing that his real life was far more interesting.
Oct 09, 2010 Thomas marked it as library
So far, this book feels shockingly like John Fante's "Wait Until Spring, Bandini" and "The Road to Los Angeles" in tone. Maybe it's a generational thing.
The Great Depression sure did suck a lot.
Reger "Muddy" Dipling
Second autobiography of Jim Thompson.
Random book I read #45768-B.
Caitlin Dwyer
Caitlin Dwyer marked it as to-read
Jul 05, 2014
Rafael Gasparotto
Rafael Gasparotto marked it as to-read
Jun 29, 2014
Kevin  Kempf
Kevin Kempf marked it as to-read
Jun 28, 2014
Melissa Leone
Melissa Leone marked it as to-read
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Madison Mcdonald marked it as to-read
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

James Myers Thompson was a United States writer of novels, short stories and screenplays, largely in the hardboiled style of crime fiction.

Thompson wrote more than thirty novels, the majority of which were original paperback publications by pulp fiction houses, from the lat...more
More about Jim Thompson...
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