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The Alcoholics

3.44 of 5 stars 3.44  ·  rating details  ·  511 ratings  ·  35 reviews
Dr. Peter S. Murphy runs a clinic to cure alcoholics. But his charges believe that the only thing that will fix them is another drink. To this bitter struggle of wills, add an orderly who doubles as a quack practitioner, a nurse who is both alluring and ingeniously sadistic, and a misplaced patient whose main problem is his lack of a frontal lobe, and the result is one of ...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published January 4th 1993 by Vintage (first published 1953)
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Cult Classics
269th out of 560 books — 692 voters
The Grifters by Jim ThompsonAfter Dark, My Sweet by Jim ThompsonFast One by Paul CainA Hell of a Woman by Jim ThompsonThe Name of the Game Is Death by Dan J. Marlowe
Black Lizard
12th out of 73 books — 4 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,688)
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Paul Toth
I give this one three stars because Jim Thompson's like a diner: He's no five star restaurant, but if you want to see the other 99 percent of America, read Jim Thompson. Here he is describing a "successful" American: "It was [his success], rather, because of an attribute which many claim, but which, happily, very few possess: the trait of making no move which did not somehow contribute to his personal advancement."

Also, some fantastic insight into the condition of patients in rehab. I know; I l
Aug 13, 2007 R. rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2006
Chapter One:

"They're going to shut down our clinic!"
"Oh, no! Whatever shall we do?"
"Let's put on a show!"

Chapter Two:

"Nurse, you are a cheap, blonde whore!"
"Like ya likes 'em, doc!"
"Not only that, but you're also stealing drugs!"
"You're a fine one to talk, chum!"

Chapter Three:
"The show had a modicum of success! We saved the clinic!"
"Let's have a drink to celebrate!"

Chapter Four:
"You may be cheap..."
"You may be a whore..."
"You may be
This is one messed-up book. I see why it is almost forgotten except by die-hard Thompson fans. It is so freakin' weird and is not a crime novel at all. Rather, it's sort of a Gothic, but without a satisfying payoff, which is what makes it even more twisted. It's just freakin' bizarre. It's just sheer weirdness like a Fellini movie or David Lynch. In fact, structurally it reminded me kind of a lot of Eraserhead. I'm quite sure it's based directly on Thompson's experiences; in fact, the author him ...more
Isaac Cooper
Started well enough, didn’t it? The Alcoholics did indeed have promise. I just picked this from a Goodreads recommendation. Doing that is interesting, because it’s essentially a random dice-roll chance of getting a good book. The Alcoholics isn’t a good book, unfortunately. It’s not horribly written, nor does it start poorly. The book simply has too many sub-plots that go absolutely nowhere and not enough substance to sustain itself.

We’ll start at the – start. The beginning of the book sets up
Felix Zilich
Необычный для нуара сеттинг: вместо психиатрической клиники лечебница для алкоголиков. Каждый пациент с утра няшный и вполне адекватный субьект, но уже ближе к обеду ему совершенно нельзя верить. Чуть ближе к вечеру он обязательно отыщет и хряпнет дежурные сто грамм, после чего мгновенно превратятся в кусок лживого и озлобленного говна. Знаешь чем отличается алкаш от простого смертного, спросит доктор Питер Мерфи у своего утреннего гостя, алкаш никогда не врёт, он только искажает реальность и в ...more
Sordid yarn about a writer who dries out in a sanatorium and gets bullied all through the book by a mean nurse. The doctor is named Murphy, just like Randall McMurphy, you suppose Ken Kesey swiped just a little bit of this stuff for his book "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest"? Thompson should've sued. He could've used the money!
The title tells you exactly and entirely what this story is about - the difficulties and frustrations inherent in dealing with or being an alcoholic. If, like me, you enjoy a well-told story, that keeps tightly to its theme, and manages to restrain itself from wandering into unrelated digressions, then you'll enjoy this book; if not, try something by James Ellroy or Raymond Chandler, both of which writers Jim Thompson produces material very similar to [sorry about that awful sentence constructio ...more
I read a handful of James Thompson novels last year, because I'd always heard he was great and wanted to give him a try. The Alcoholics was my second, selected because I thought he did such a good job of capturing alcoholic behavior in my first exposure, After Dark, My Sweet. I should have read the reviews here and on Amazon; this book is Dullsville, and only of interest because of its descriptions of outdated methods for "curing" alcoholism.
Christopher Beckett
Bailed out roughly halfway. The first Thompson that not only didn't delight me, but didn't even attain my interest at any point. May be my fault, the only stories I find less interesting than ones about addicts are ones about porn actors.
What even was this?

It's like if One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest had a baby with Disney's Song of the South, and it burst out of the womb talking double-time dressed as a noir detective.

My long overdue introduction to one of the originals. If you haven't read Thompson, time to get him in your stack. Put some ice in your beverage of choice and start reading.
David Harris
Jim Thompson's The Alcoholics was first published in 1953. The paperback copy I checked out is a Canadian edition from 1993. This guy is a crime writer (well, he was, he apparently died in 1977) with a supposedly (according to the New York Review of Books) literary bent.

I found it interesting enough to read through to the end, but it seemed quite contrived and simplistic to me. I would imagine that's probably just a result of its being a product of its time, though. In any case, if real people w
Timofey Peters
После просмотра фильма «Убийца внутри меня» по роману Томпсона решил ознакомиться с другим его творчеством. Дочитал с трудом. Фигня.
A goal of mine is to own and read all of Thompson's work. this one is funnier and way lighter than say pop. 1280 which is utterly brutal and amazing. Who knows, he may have been thinking up a play in his mind when writing this book, it seems theatrical to me. Humorous way of writing like some dialects sound (can't remember the term for that right now...). he writes compassionately about the misery of hopeless alcoholism which gives the story heart. was hoping he'd vamp on that even more. on to t ...more
Different from the typical Jim Thompson thriller, this book is more funny, less dark, and with a much more sympathetic hero. Plus, it was ahead of its time (1953) in more ways than one --- competent, capable black characters, for one thing, but also in its whole treatment of alcoholism, before A.A. was a well-known concept. In parts, it read like a warning tract against alcoholism written by an old-timer A.A. man, but it was mainly very good.
Completely implausible. Mildly entertaining. A product of its time (1953), the writer displays a fair bit of both racism and misogyny -- the people of color as well as the women in the story are cartoonish. The biggest bit of praise I can give is that the author does seem to have true empathy towards, and understanding of, the plight of the alcoholic.
Lukas Persson
This was tedious as fuck, almost like a handful of stories about drunks and nurses in a crappy sort of rehab, all woven together loosely with the doctor of the joint. Would have given this book two stars, but the final few chapter really started coming together in an interesting way.
One in which Thompson's humour surfaces at its' blackest. It's like one long very bleak joke tho not exactly of the lovable shaggy dog story variety. True to a fault in its depiction of human psychology at the more warped end of the spectrum.
Q: How would The Alcoholics be different if it had been written by any noir writer of the 1950s other than Jim Thompson?

A: It would not be in print!

First reading: circa 1999
Second reading: 20 March 2010
Benoit Lelievre
That was...odd. And short also. Very pleasant read nonetheless. The loveable losers of The Alcoholics are just trying to survive, but they are far too entrenched within themselves. Agreeable surprise.
Jim Thompson's The Alcoholics takes an absurd and sometimes comical look at the many faces of alcoholism and the curious characters who have the knowledge and patience to try to get them help.
day-in-the-life-at-a-rehab(ish)-clinic. even has the random-yet-different-cast-of-characters. comes complete with the happy-(as-much-as-happy-can-be,-given-the-themes)type-ending.
It's a great read with some fantastic turns of phrases. The only issue with it is how criminally short it is, thankfully I started reading when I was busy so was able to stretch it out.
great characters
I press pause of page fifty two
perhaps I'll pick this one up again, it does not seem capable of holding my interests for all too long at the present time .
Sean Hoade
A gritty insider's story of an asylum for the hopelessly alcoholic, but one that ends up being rather positive and even sweet. Thompson is the best.
Pretty clearly Advanced Jim Thompson. And despite my enthusiasm, I'm not quite at Advanced Jim Thompson.
Peter Stampfer
Not one of my favorite Jim Thompson novels. The bad guys weren't very bad in this one.
Emma Lynne
The best way to fully appreciate this short book is to read it in a bar.
Pretty good, and different, Thompson book until the easy ending.
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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 about Jim Thompson...
The Killer Inside Me The Grifters Pop. 1280 The Getaway After Dark, My Sweet

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