Paul's Reviews > Pop. 1280

Pop. 1280 by Jim Thompson
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Oct 07, 12

bookshelves: fiction, thriller-suspense
Read from September 30 to October 06, 2012

Actual rating: 2.5 stars.

I read an enthusiastic review of Pop. 1280 that made me think I'd missed an important chapter in American frontier lawman fiction, like somehow never getting around to reading Charles Portis' True Grit. In fact, that's what I was expecting (and for the first few pages thought I'd found) ... the progenitor of Portis' later novel.

But instead of Portis, the author of this slim novel reminds me of Aesop. Pop. 1280 reads like a child's fable. Sheriff Nick Correy plays the role of Clever Fox, outwitting the goats of Pottsville. A sociopathic Clever Fox outwitting sociopathic goats.

There's not a hint of conventional morality to be found in Pop. 1280. Every character is a cold-blooded killer. I was, frankly, repelled by the book's core message, that nothing matters but one's own desires, that acting selfishly without regard to another person's humanity is to do god's will. Some god.

Sheriff Nick tries to come across as a beguiling, self-effacing hick, and he sometimes throws around words that are meant to make you think he cares about people, but his actions always belie his words. The story basically ends a third of the way through the novel when Nick kills his first two victims; what remains is repetition.

Pop. 1280 left me empty and unhappy. No, worse than empty and unhappy. Contaminated.

Excuse me, please. I need to take a long shower.
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Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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blake Sounds like an effective novel then, if it had such a strong impact.


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