Re: RARA-AVIS: Hard-Boiled Gazetteer to Southern California - "Manifesto for the Dead"

From: E.Borgers (
Date: 01 Jun 2004

I read MANIFESTO FOR THE DEAD by Domenic Stansberry, not so long ago. It features Jim Thompson in LA during the year 1971. Jim struggles with his personal demons and try a last run to save his apartment, and to please his wife. He is picked up by a Hollywood has-been producer to write a "novelization" of a film which is still in its preparation stage. The thing seems awkward at first look, but Jim wants to go ahead with the book: this will at least give him a chance to make some money and to bring some hope in the middle of the mess he calls his life. But somebody delivers unexpectedgly an old Cad at his door and everything will slide into a nightmarish and confusing string of events. Jim will try to face the music in the midst of an acute financial crisis, haunted by his booze problems and with the feeling that his marriage is on the brink of collapsing. Around him, events seem now to match the story he plotted for his book in the making, increasing Jim's paranoia and delirium But he will go ahead with is writing: he wants at all costs to finish the novel called "Manifesto for the Dead"...

I recommend the book which successfully manipulates some facts of Thompson's real life and weaves it with fiction. The result is a plausible and interesting evocation of Thompson's universe (as found in his fictions) without doing a pastiche of his style of writing. It's sometimes hard, a bit sad, and with some irony which is scattered through the story; but (IMO) it shows Thompson, the man, as he probably was during the last part of his real life. Genius is rarely politically correct ! So was Thompson...

An interesting, complex and gripping novel.

 E.Borgers Hard-Boiled Mysteries

William Denton wrote:

>The 1 May 2004 issue of BOOKLIST (from the American Library Association,
>so North Americans can probably find it at their local library) has a
>feature called "A Hard-Boiled Gazetteer to Southern California," by Bill
>Ott. Below are all the books he mentions, which are mostly series. Some
>seem a bit light on the hardboiled/noir credentials (excepting Ellroy, Mr.
>Lankford, Crais, etc.), but many names are either new to me or ones I've
>only seen on bookstore shelves. What's the verdict on, say, Seranella's
>Munch Mancini series? And has anyone read Stansberry's MANIFESTO FOR THE
>DEAD, where Jim Thompson is ficionalized?

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