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Now and on Earth

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  757 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
San Diego in the years before World War II. James Dillon is barely scraping by working a menial job in manufacturing, trying to raise a family and support his elderly mother and sister Frankie at the same time. He drinks too hard--just like his father and nearly everyone in his extended family. With so many people crammed into one home, sometimes there's so much fighting h ...more
320 pages
Published February 1st 1994 by Vintage (first published 1942)
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Trixie Fontaine
Lately all roads have been trying to lead me to Jim Thompson, so I was pretty excited when I found this book at the bottom of a stack; I forgot I bought/had it and had no expectations for it. The description on the back cover had me picturing something much darker than what wound up being sweeter and funnier than that. Not that it's a sweet and funny story, just sweetER and funnIER than I anticipated.

It was incredibly mundane and domestic - poetically so. The detailed workday descriptions remind
Aug 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-fiction
I liked this book, probably more than it deserves to be liked, given its odd shapelessness--though that, of course, is part of its point: life is plotless, just one damn thing afer another as one is slowly and inevitably ground down. Jim Thompson's first novel is, basically, a literary novel written as it if were a pulp novel, sort of a "what if Faulkner wrote clear concise sentences?" kind of thing (at one point the book actually cites a story by Robert Heinlein as one of the best pieces of wri ...more
Jan 25, 2011 rated it it was ok
contains an introduction by stephen king with a great quote about jim thompson:
"the literature of a healthy society needs proctologists as much as brain surgeons"

this wasn't thompson's usual noir, but rather a semi-autobiographical novel about
old school family, i.e. extended, all living in the same house, often drinking,
sometimes fighting (oddly enough, usually when NOT drinking), any barely getting
by on one salary from a horrible job, but with a deep sense of responsibility
despite many setbacks
Patrick Bair
Dec 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
A different kind of novel from a different kind of writer. I love Jim Thompson.
Mariano Hortal
Publicado en

Una recopilación de novelas de Jim Thompson. La escisión de la identidad

Aprovechando que acabo de terminar la biografía del escritor norteamericano, una joya de la que tendréis noticias en este blog en no mucho tiempo; se me ocurrió la posibilidad de hacer un pequeño monográfico con las obras que me quedaban por leer del escritor; ha valido mucho la pena, sobre todo porque gracias al análisis de la biografía, es indudable que ayudan a disfruta
Guy Salvidge
Feb 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was Thompson's first novel but it reads more like a thinly-veiled memoir and a far better one than Bad Boy, which was written a decade later. I think it probably helps to read the bulk of Thompson's work before this first, as I did, because this certainly isn't representative of his style as a whole. What we have here is a slice-of-life narrative without much of a plot or shape that nevertheless provides fascinating detail about working in a production plant during wartime San Diego. As a n ...more
Feb 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: classics
Have read a few other novels by Thompson and this one is different from them all. This is not a crime novel at all. More of Thompson channeling Grapes of Wrath. All of the characters are a bit pathetic, just like real people. It's well written except for the laggy parts where our protagonist goes into detail about his mind-numbing job. I know this is all practically autobiographic; makes you wonder what actually happened or where the reality and the story diverge. Makes me look forward more to r ...more
Me gusta mucho la capacidad del autor de usar muchas palabras para contar pocas cosas y que pese a ello te enganche y te embajone tanto.

Más allá del estilo, la historia no me ha aportado nada especial, quizá por ese tono autobiográfico y ese rollo de escritor escribiendo sobre problemas de escritores que me cansa un poco.

Seguro que otras de sus novelas me gustarán más.
Don Smith
Jun 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A gritty old noir story that will chill and mesmerize. I love Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammet and all, but this guy can hang with the best.
Apr 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature
Back around 1996, I picked up Savage Art: A Biography of Jim Thompson by Robert Polito, shortly after it won a couple of awards for best biographical work. I started reading that book which I founded engrossing but decided to put it aside until I read ALL of Thompson’s published works so I wouldn’t “spoil” the experience by having all the plots revealed in the critical biography. Distracted by life and other manifestations of obsessive compulsion, I quickly put that “project” aside, until almos ...more
Jan 20, 2014 rated it liked it
Told purely from the harried and psychologically damaged mind of Jimmy Dillon, who struggles mightily to establish himself a writer in newly entered California. But he has a large, demanding wife and family and his own sisters and mother to keep. He struggles to keep up his writing craft, with pressure from those around him with their own misanthropic issues and mental instabilities, including an institutionalized father back home carrying the shame of professional failures. This was Thompson's ...more
Feb 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'll review the entire Red Riding Quartet, since the books really compose one large narrative.

David Peace takes us into one of the bleakest worlds I've encountered even in the most hard-boiled detective literature -- northern England from 1974-1983 (with some flashes back into an equally dismal late 60s) in which a child abductor and killer is running rampant, the Yorkshire Ripper is terrorizing the region, and the police force is hopelessly corrupt and in bed with some very bad businessmen. Squ

James Dillon ist ein armer Schlucker. Er kann sich und seine Familie in den 40er Jahren des vergangenen Jahrhunderts gerade so mit seinem ungeliebten Job in einer Flugzeugherstellungsfabrik über Wasser halten, kämpft mit seiner Alkoholsucht und deren Folgen und hat als Schreiberling mit einer absoluten Schreibblockade und einem Haus voller Irrer genug zu tun. Ein Teufelskreislauf, aus dem es scheinbar kein Entrinnen gibt.

In autobiographischer Weise ge
Dec 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 20, 2013 rated it liked it
Going through old Jim Thompson books, hopefully in order of publication. One word: DARK. Wait - one more word: DEPRESSING.

Ok, given those are pretty much "givens" for him, "Now and on Earty" is actually a pretty interesting book, especially taken as a period piece. A quasi-personal introspection of a time in his own life, this is set in San Diego in the early 1940's/WWII, and a graphic snapshot of a hard life, hard living and simply hard times.

Admittedly, I read it in spurts, with more light r
Jul 17, 2011 marked it as to-read
Stephen King recommended author and introduction. In the introduction to Now and on Earth, Stephen King says he most admires Thompson's work because "The guy was over the top. The guy was absolutely over the top. Big Jim didn't know the meaning of the word stop. There are three brave lets inherent in the forgoing: he let himself see everything, he let himself write it down, then he let himself publish it."

“He was crazy,” Stephen King, a long-time admirer of Thompson, says. “He went running into
Dec 31, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: you
Shelves: fiction
Jim Thompson lived a hard life... This is his first full novel, and is pretty much his life with the serial numbers filed off. A good read so far, but a lot different than his standard fare. The Stephen King forward is definitely out of place, seems to be a generic praise piece for Thompson and had nothing to do with the book itself.
This one is less hard assed Thompson, and more personal than his later work. It's just a good read about a guy with little direction trying to raise a family that's
Jun 18, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: noirboiled
Plodding, structurally inept debut novel by Jim Thompson. He gives expository flashbacks right up until the end of the narrative, as if sooner or later the plot will finally get going. But it never does. I suspect that part of Thompson's problem may have been the autobiographical nature of the work--he seems not to have enough distance from his material to figure out anything interesting to do with it. But he would solve this problem in later books.
Apr 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Wow, I love Jim Thompson- Once and On Earth is as fresh today as it must have when written in 1942. A down-on-the-luck factory worker in a WWII arms factory watches as his family implodes, with major contributions from him of course. Very dark, but can it possibly have a happy ending? Read.

The really good news- Thompson wrote 13 more books I have not yet found in our public library. The Hunt Is On!
Jul 18, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thompson's stand-in grouses about his soul-deadening factory job, the family he can't stand to be around, and his inability to write under these conditions.

As usual in these narratives, he's his own worst enemy -- it sounds like people generally like him, and he seems to get a better deal than just about anyone around him.
Feb 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thompson has long been one of my favorites, but this was my first look at his debut novel. It is a tense, uncomfortable story of a struggling writer, appropriately enough -- a guy who started a family before he started his career and seems to sometimes regret it. Incredibly fluid, vivid writing taps deep wells of complicated emotion.
Lukas Persson
Jun 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book was surprisingly interesting for being such a small, and simple little story, so close to Thompson's actual life. But I was truly able to relate to so much in this book, which was interesting, being that it was published in 1942. Different from his popular work, this one is much more personal, and grounded in a real world that I could see Mr. Thompson living through.
Feb 16, 2009 rated it it was ok
I liked this at first and got 3/4 through it... but then reached a point of really disliking all of the characters, and I haven't wanted to pick it up again. Boooo, am I a wimpy person who needs to like the characters in a story? How disappointing, but maybe true at this point. I paid my literary dues in college. ;)
Oct 25, 2007 rated it liked it
interesting first novel by thompson. unlike many of the characters in thompson's subsequent work, the protagonist is not trying to conceal any heinous, pathological behavior. maybe i can only say that because the red scare seems so long ago. still, the atmosphere is palpably oppressive, and i found myself on edge.
Jan 24, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Now And On Earth is Jim Thompson's very first novel and those expecting the usual nightmare noir from him won't find it here. This is more like a John Fante novel or a Bukowski Factotum/Ham On Rye-styled novel. In fact, Now And On Earth would make a good companion piece to Factotum, wine guzzling and all.
May 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
Entertaining and thoughtful, though his writing is as sharp and fine-tuned as it was later. Had some political underpinnings I appreciated, which he gave up later, and was definitely far removed from his more sexual themes later as well. Still messed up though, don't get me wrong!
Mar 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jim Thompson's 'Now and on Earth' was a revelation. This first novel is not a smidge like the noir tales of scheming and grifting he's known for but I recognized Jim's style and voice from page one. By page two I was hooked. Around page 10 I wondered why I'd never come across this book before.
Aug 12, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars.

Very reminiscent of Bukowski and early Fante. The novel gets a little slow when describing working in the aircraft factory, but generally right up my alley.
Juan Pinilla
Un gran escritor, aunque esta obra, autobiográfica y deshilachada no es de lo mejor...
Asha Thomas
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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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