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The Nothing Man

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  965 ratings  ·  64 reviews
War changed Clinton Brown. Permanently disfigured by a tragic military accident, he's struggling to find satisfaction from life as a rewrite man for Pacific City's Courier. Shame has led him to isolate himself from closest friends and even his estranged, still faithfully devoted wife, Ellen. Only the bottle keeps him company.

But now Ellen has returned to Pacific City, and
Paperback, 256 pages
Published August 5th 2014 by Mulholland Books (first published 1954)
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Average rating 3.79  · 
Rating details
 ·  965 ratings  ·  64 reviews

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Aug 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: jim thompson fans
Shelves: pulp-fiction
Psychotically slapstick tale of an ace reporter who lost his private parts in the war, unfortunately the newshound is handsome as hell, so the ladies all chase after him like nobody’s business. What’s a hostile, castrated hunk to do but kill all the women?
Best scene in the book is when the boss’ babytalking wife gets her fat ass handed to her by our dickless hero. Shortly after he throws up her nauseating dinner of frankfurters cooked in mayonnaise (dig the phallic symbolism). One of Thompson’s
Nov 24, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
God, I love Jim Thompson. On a whim, I decided to reread some of my favorites. The Nothing Man is a blast. A poetry-writing newspaper man, fifths of whisky downed in a few hours, women who fall in love easily and quickly, and murder. What's not to love?
Sep 08, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: grit-lit, crime
Classic nihilistic Thompson. Clinton Brown is work-a-holic, alcoholic, sociopathic wiseass, void of all emotion, and capable of fooling all of his small-town, lame brained coworkers into doing just about anything he wants. He drinks whiskey around the clock, uses his good looks to manipulate women, yet has no problem in resorting to extreme acts of violence when he feels that his cherished loneliness is in danger. When Clinton gets personally involved in the death of his former wife, a mystery ...more
Jun 17, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Melody by: anyone who likes to read the same story over and over
Shelves: creepy, crime
Ok. That's my last Jim Thompson. Even if we have another one at the house I will not read it. It's the same dang story anyway. I'm not even going to put a spoiler alert here because if you've read one of them you need to know you have pretty much read them all. Or at least the one's I've read. The main character kills women. Then he uses his much greater intellect to confuse and trick the dumb people who are around him to believe that he could not possible have been the murderer.

The only new
Nov 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel surprised me. I had never heard of it before, having only come across it in a three-novel compilation that I picked up for three dollars in a used bookstore in Boston. About halfway through, it was starting to seem like the protagonist's murders were rather gratuitous, not unlike those which soured me on Thompson's revered The Killer Inside Me. But then the ending hits, and suddenly the book is not what it had seemed. Clifton Brown is indeed a nothing man, not really existing as his ...more
Jan 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My personal favorite Jim Thompson novel. Guy comes back from the war with a little secret wound that he will kill to keep secret.

Loaded with a few first-hand insights into the life of an alcoholic newspaper reporter of the time.

I think it is amazing that he got away with writing this back in the 1950s, when I believe screen kisses were still timed and limited to no more than 5 seconds!!

This is simply good stuff. Read it, guys, you'll enjoy it.
Nov 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Nothing Man is a clever twist on a murder novel. In it we see the classic Thompson confrontation between the (A) existentially troubled, intellectually sophisticated (but impotent) Thompson character versus (B) the sly good ole boy and his old fashioned human corruption, and you can guess who ultimately wins.
Dug Gly
Aug 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read this book six or seven times, and it just keeps getting funnier every time.
Jun 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoy Thompson, but. man, he can put you through the wringer. His protagonists are just so flat-out im- or at least amoral that the reading can be, well, uncomfortable. This book is no exception, with a war-wounded dissolute and embittered newspaperman, whose rage at the world is taken out on all those around him - ex-wife, colleagues, chief of police, etc. The characters are good, and even if not likeable are enjoyable. There's a real sense of place and period... it's a good, engaging, ...more
Nov 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Surely Thompson's dark Freudian joke? All the usual murder noir elements in place - whisky, rain, nicotine and despair; crooked police and corrupt politicians, weak willed patsys and uber cool dames. With one cruel twist. Our anti hero is missing something vital. And is blessed with being unusually attractive to the ladies, which makes his lack of ability to satisfy that desire drive a murderous rage. The "nothing" leaves him twisted, alcoholic, and weirdly poetic - words being his only escape ...more
Nathan Alderman
Jul 25, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You've never read a mystery novel like The Nothing Man, an upside-down, backwards, brilliantly structured bit of crime noir. The story begins as the protagonist's confession to three murders -- but is he really guilty? Or just so self-loathing, so consumed with hatred and rage over the unspecified but implicitly horrific war wound he's sustained, that he's talked himself into believing he's a monster? It's a black-hearted slog through the very worst of human nature -- which makes its quiet, ...more
Feb 03, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Typically nutty Thompson novel. The protagonist is a compellingly sardonic writer who got his, um, parts, blown off in the war and is so consumed with shame that he'll do *anything* to keep it quite. Black humor and violence abound. It's not as sharp as Thompson's best; I've seen speculation that the publisher insisted on a twist ending that doesn't really fit with the rest of the book and it certainly feels that way.
Oct 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
First of all, Jim Thompson is one of my top 5 favorite authors. While The Nothing Man is not his best, it is a twisted, psychological tornado of a book with an incredibly smart, entertaining protag who drags you along on his gleeful journey. For me, Thompson's pulp is still fresh as it was in the 50's because he enters the mind of a small town psycho like no other writer.
Jul 16, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: noir, crimefiction
Salud to Jim Thompson, second to none in suspense noir writing. An emasculated newspaper reporter murders his ex-wife...or does he? Turns out there are clues behind that don't jibe with what he did. And then he murders more to cover his tracks...or does he? Is the drink getting to him? Or is someone else covering his tracks, in a twisted effort to implicate him even more deeply? Good stuff.
Wendy Crittenden
May 28, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I read someone's review here that this book is the same as every other Jim Thompson novel and she was done with him, but I disagree, and I also disagree that every Jim Thompson book is the same premise over and over again. In fact, I am pretty sure she didn't read this one to the end, as there is it doesn't finish as one might expect. It's not my favorite Thompson novel, but it is good.
Liam Green
Jul 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Nihilism and toxic masculinity wrapped up in one of the most potent word packages Thompson ever produced. It's not the eternal nightmare of KILLER INSIDE ME or the formal experiment madness of HELL OF A WOMAN, but still among Big Jim's best.
Gary Norris
Dec 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
the NOthing man. it's shakespeare. lear and hamlet have a lot in common with the drunken slob of an anti-hero in this novel.

a lot of walking and talking in this, as well.

i'd love to see a screenplay for this.
Jan 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of the first Jim Thompson books that I read, is also my favorite. The story keeps you riveted and constantly guessing, right up to the surprising end. Surely one of Thompson's crime fiction masterpieces.
Oct 18, 2018 rated it liked it
This book is hilarious. Once you find out what the protagonist has lost in the war, you just... can't. I think the males of the species will have a different take on this. Lol
Aug 04, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of film noir
Great film noir-style book that was hard to put down. Would make a brilliant film.
Peter Newman
Aug 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Not my usual cup of tea but the writing was fab and much more interesting than a standard noir. Oh the mind games! I genuinely didn't know how it was going to end. Quick read too.
Bill Syken
Oct 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Great vibe and atmosphere, crazy/dicey story. Not prime Jim Thompson, but it's still Jim Thompson.
Brandon Montgomery
I'm not going to go in to the specifics of the story since the summary at the top of this page is as good a preview as any. Instead, I'll just generalize so your reading of the novel won't be tainted by my opinions of every twist and turn. For instance...

This one, like all of Jim Thompson's novels, takes place in a small town in hell populated entirely by murderers, thieves, psychopaths, sociopaths, cowards, con men, alcoholics, blackmailers, whores, crooked cops, crooked politicians, the
The Professor
Nov 20, 2019 rated it liked it
“How long could you live in a world where everyone knew you didn't have a pecker?” Ah that sunny fellow Jim Thompson, how he keeps me warm on my commute with his tales of male FUBARs going off the deep end. “Nothing” is the usual first rate man-fic which, even if it doesn’t reach the heights of “The Killer Inside Me” or “Pop.1280” is still larded with deliciously unpalatable truths about what happens when it all gets a bit much for your average homicidal maniac.

The average homicidal maniac here
May 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jim Thompson is rad as hell. The Nothing Man twists and turns on a darkly comic journey through male post-war anxiety and disillusionment. Which, in Thompson’s hands is both distressingly heavy and slapstickingly ludicrous. The literal emasculation anxiety and shame is deeply comical, and simultaneously a disturbingly poignant critique of white heterosexual masculinity—something that’s found new levels of disturbing relevance in the age of beta males, MRAs, incels and #metoo.

The danger,
Nov 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
In Jim Thompson's, "The Nothing Man", a war veteran missing a certain characteristic works as a newspaperman and helps the police track down a murderer. The killer is, of course, our protagonist. Not unlike other Thompson novels featuring a sly killer as the lead character, it's a case of a newer type of person versus the older, the unpredictably mad new trauma-laden type versus the trust-me-I'm-an-old-timer, and that of a man with nothing to lose going up against someone with a hell of a lot to ...more
Sep 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
Definitely not one of his best
Guy Salvidge
Aug 25, 2015 rated it liked it
This is a clever book, but I can't say I enjoyed it as much as at least 5-6 of Thompson's other novels. So many of his books are one and the same, really. There's a psychopathic protagonist who kills for no particular reason (normally women) and then kills more people to cover up the initial murder/s. There's always a lot of sadistic conversation with other characters who are being duped/framed for the crimes of the protagonist. And our antihero nearly always cops it in the neck in the end. This ...more
Asif Ghazanfar
May 18, 2018 rated it it was ok
I got this book on a whim. I was visiting an excellent book store in Brooklyn called Quimby's. It has a neat but ecclectic collection. I noted a series of books by Jim Thompson; on each it had a blurb that said Thompson was "The most hard-boiled of all the American writers of crime fiction." I needed a palate-cleansing book between my more intense reading, so I picked one out at random and bought it.

"The Nothing Man" was mildly entertaining. It was okay on the crime fiction front, but I also
Apr 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

The wit & clever word-play immediately draws you in and endears the narrator to you. This is in spite of the character's, inferred, cringe-inducing injury & apparent nonchalant manner in which he kills the women in his life.

But what elevates the book is the "call to action" in the end; forcing the reader to exam how he/she uses his/her own perceived lackings/handicaps to insulate and excuse him/her from trying/doing/feeling whatever it is from which he/she is guarding
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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
“The phone rang. Softly, in actuality, yet it seemed loud and ominous, as phones do at night in dark hotel rooms.” 26 likes
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