Lou Ford, Texan (was Re: RARA-AVIS: Murderous geniuses)

From: William Denton ( buff@pobox.com)
Date: 07 Apr 2004

On 7 April 2004, Bill Crider wrote:

: Mark: Lou Ford appears as a secondary character in WILD TOWN.

Which, it turns out, is what I'm reading. POP. 1290 is set in the South, and I looked at it, then grabbed WILD TOWN (1957), which is set the West or "Far West" of Texas. I'd forgotten the book completely and was surprised when Lou Ford showed up, because the last time I saw him he'd just killed his girlfriend and then been shot to bits in THE KILLER INSIDE ME (1952). I looked it up in Robert Polito's SAVAGE ART: A BIOGRAPHY OF JIM THOMPSON (New York: Knopf, 1995).

| WILD TOWN (Signet, September 1957) is neither a sequel to THE KILLER
| INSIDE ME nor properly a prequel, although the action likely occurs
| decades previous, just after the oil boom of the 1920s. The novel
| transpires, rather, in a parallel universe to THE KILLER INSIDE ME, an
| inverted mirror world called "Ragtown," where everything the reader
| *knows* about Lou Ford turns out to be wrong. The West Texas setting
| may be similar--Ragtown resembles an earlier incarnation of Central
| City--along with some of the characters, such as Ford's girlfriend Amy;
| the deputy sheriff may still be a posturing "country clown" belching
| cornpone and dread. Yet as Thompson told his cousin about the plot of
| all stories, "things are not as they seem." Ford goes to bed with the
| devil, but this time he rises with the angels.

I skipped the rest to avoid spoilers.

How do Thompson's Texas settings, from the '20s to the '50s, seem to the Texans on the list? How's he regarded down there?

Polito adds:

| WILD TOWN showed Thompson for the first time winking at his Lion cult,
| if cult can be the word for so sizable a readership as he collected by
| the late 1950s. Over the following thirteen months the novel sold a
| vigorous 238,987 copies. With his $2,500 advance, Jim quit New York
| City for California, a New American Library author, in May 1957

A quarter of a million copies seems like excellent sales.


William Denton : Toronto, Canada : http://www.miskatonic.org/ : Caveat lector.

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