Re: RARA-AVIS: What led to Dark Ride?

From: Kukana Fields (
Date: 09 Sep 2005


First let me say that I've been very gratified and thankful to read the mail about Dark Ride and some of my other books. I will answer your question and Mr. Borgers question in a moment, but I just have to say how gratifying it is to read the nice things people have said today. Thank you. It's not been easy, as the industry has not received my work with the same enthusiasm to say the least. So these nice things are like finding water in a desert. Keep in mind, I was told to put "Dia De Los Muertos" in a drawer and forget about it. I've never forgotten that.


OK, your question about Dark Ride first. (I'll answer Mr. Borgers question in a separate email.)


 I had read one of Thompson's novels, it was a Black Lizard paperback. (The one about the fire insurance investigator the title escapes me right now and perhaps it's not important which one really). My brother left it at my house by mistake. It was really an accident that I read Thompson! I had not read much crime fiction and never heard of Jim Thompson. I was thunder struck after reading it. And very moved. It was a voice that I'd been looking for. A new voice, for me anyway. I was writing novels but was unpublished. I had been so influenced by Hemingway's voice and others, Lawrence, a lot of the Brits they were seminal to my style and still are. But I found a voice in Thompson that I could really relate too at that moment. It was the right voice at the right time. I was going through a bad patch myself working in Oakland and getting shot at everyday. Broke all the time etc etc. Then Gulf War One started and my response was to write Dark Ride out of the blue really and i!
 n the
 Thompson style. It was a kind of freedom to try to conjure up that voice; I didn't plan the book. I just sat down and wrote it. (I wrote that book on a clipboard during the day, when I could at work, then would drink brandy and transpose it to my computer at night, all very intense.[your best work you seem to disappear into completely like a love affair.) The book both reflects things I wanted to say about society, frustration, youth, sex, about a lot of things; it was spontaneous. In some ways I don't understand it's power. There is something about Jimmy's anger that is very powerful and frightening I know that.

It's interesting to note that a lot of bookstores wouldn't carry it. I think women found it off putting in part because it was so much about a young man's point of view (Something that was not in vogue). His desire for power, gratification, success.

The industry wanted me, I think, to be a junior Jim Thompson after that book. Of course, I rebelled, as I found that idea ridiculous and foreign as Dark Ride had been an honest attempt to use Thompson's style of music to say something Kent Harrington wanted to say.

One last thing. I've felt a great deal of respect for Mr. Jim Thompson since. I think Lou Ford is one of the great American literary characters, maybe also one of the great characters in World Literature.


William Denton <> wrote:Kent, how did you come to write DARK RIDE? What made you write something in that vein, with those inspirations, at that time? I'm afraid I don't know if you'd done any other writing before that, such as short stories or TV or movies. Can you fill us in?

Perhaps Mr. Taboada and others who read the book when it came out could comment on how they found out about it. Did you just see it in a store or the library and like the dust jacket blurb? Taking a chance on a first-time writer can turn out badly, but in this case it obviously turned out very well.


William Denton : Toronto, Canada : :

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