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The Alcoholics

3.38  ·  Rating details ·  725 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews
Dr. Peter S. Murphy needs fifteen thousand dollars by the end of the day, or the city of Los Angeles can say goodbye to the El Healtho clinic. A recovery center for the most severe cases of alcoholism in the state--even if no one ever does quite seem to get dry there--El Healtho has been the bane of Dr. Murphy's existence ever since he started running it. But now that its ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published August 5th 2014 by Mulholland Books (first published 1953)
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Carla Remy
Feb 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Not one of Thompson's best. Not very plotty, no crime. Though it is published by Vintage Crime (I have the paperback - my boyfriend once found it at a used bookstore, and also didn't like It). I can only imagine this was written for the money, one of those exploitative drugstore paperbacks, telling you the scandals of alcoholism. There is sex. From 1953.
Peter Landau
Jan 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
There are many reasons why I picked up THE ALCOHOLICS by Jim Thompson. I like the author, and haven’t read him in years. The book has been lying around my house. It’s short. But what really motivated me was my own writing. I’m working on a book about Alcoholics Anonymous and felt reading this novel would be somehow thematically appropriate. There’s no specific AA talk on these pages, though there are points where the two intersect, such as how they define the “alcoholic.” But Thompson’s gothic t ...more
Aug 11, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Sergey Pavlov
Jun 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: thriller
A book about the everyday life of alcoholic clinic , written at a time when no one had heard of Don Escobar. Honestly, I expected to read the noir, but here no one kills anyone, although some would be worth it. However, the elements of the noir here are still present and the femme fatale in the form of a nurse, is in its place correcting the line of stockings.

The plot develops on the principle of tightening a loop around the neck of the protagonist. After the culmination, he probably dies, since
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
Feb 20, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pulp-fiction
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!
Peter Stampfer
Not one of my favorite Jim Thompson novels. The bad guys weren't very bad in this one.
Kirk Smith
Nov 19, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: top-noire
More cheerful than you might think. ;)
Sean Stevens
Aug 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Fans of asylum films like THE COBWEB and SHOCK CORRIDOR will have a field day with this lurid little novella full of extreme characters ( doctor being just as nuts as everyone else) populating a time capsule of antiquated 1950's era ideas that regard diseases of the mind with a moral superiority that borders on comedy.
Jun 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
acrid, blunt,. funny (if you r in the know) true, brutal
Sep 04, 2018 rated it liked it
More chaotic than all of the other books by him that i've read. Slight disappointment.
Dave Quam
Not a very interesting Thompson novel, pretty disappointed. With as much booze as Jim threw in him you'd think he'd have been able to write a half-decent novel about his favorite subject. Anyways, I forgive him and it has its quirky moments I suppose.
Dana Jerman
Mar 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fast and fun. This was my first Thompson and it is zany and illicit and satisfying in the way of "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" without being too involved with itself. I'll bet this was as fun to write as it was to read.
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
Guy Salvidge
Feb 21, 2017 rated it did not like it
I've read a lot of Jim Thompson, about fifteen or so of his books. This is about the worst of them. The attempted humour falls flat and the plot goes absolutely nowhere.
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
Jason Yavor
I'm a big fan of Jim Thompson's dark and disturbing form of crime novels but this book threw me for a loop. This is not really a crime novel and it has what I guess you would call a happy ending. This is not what I expect to find when reading a Thompson novel.

The book takes place in an alcohol rehab center and focuses on a doctor who is struggling financially and mentally with the crazy assortment of characters he has to deal with. I guess much of this book was probably somewhat shocking back in
Ian Hamilton
May 26, 2016 rated it did not like it
The Summer 2016 Jim Thompson binge continues...The Alcoholics. The three-sentence synopsis on the back is sadly one of the few engaging things about this novella; otherwise, there's really nothing that's memorable. In traditional Thompson-fashion our narrator is a slimeball, but rather than a sociopathic figure of authority or a down-and-out fringe-type, he's a short-tempered psychiatrist struggling to keep the doors open at a beachside residential clinic for alcoholism that's seemingly seen bet ...more
Feb 07, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jul 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a good, quick read; however if you are looking for true noir, this isn't it. Set in an alcoholism rehab center in the Los Angeles, CA area around 1950 or so, the main character, Dr. Peter S. Murphy, is in financial trouble and also has to deal with both his problem patients and an ornery staff. Interesting reflection of the ethos of the era it was written in - some things would probably be considered politically incorrect today by some. The other thing I found curious about it, there was ...more
Feb 03, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Eve Kay
Apr 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ah, the beauty of Jim Thompson: Take a seemingly simple idea, give it layers and lather it with a fun plot.
I kept waiting for a murder until I realised that this one was more about a great twist and the oh-so-excellent ending (and wow was I proud of myself when I figured out how this would end).
I didn't give it five stars because I've read a few of Mr Thompson's that have been even better, and yeah, maybe I prefer a murder.
Jun 07, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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.
D. B.
Jan 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
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.
Dec 21, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Nov 03, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A strange story. A struggling, frantic doctor, Dr. Murphy, runs a struggling, weird clinic to treat alcoholics. With a sadistic nurse. And a pregnant woman. And a man who is essentially a vegetable. Just a weird, strange story.
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.
Mar 17, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: noirboiled
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
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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
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