Re: RARA-AVIS: Pop 1280 vs. Coup de Torchon

From: Kerry J. Schooley (
Date: 21 Aug 2006

At 11:42 AM 20/08/2006 -0400, you wrote:

>A while back, Rob Elkin said that "the narrators of Thompson's 'Hell of a
>'Killer Inside Me,' 'Savage Night,' 'Pop. 1280,' and 'After Dark My Sweet'
>are some of THE most unreliable in the business." I don't know about the
>others, but Nick seemed to be fairly straightforward. Hints of his
>delusion are scattered all the way through.

When I read "Pop. 1280" not too long ago I thought I saw a similarity to the type of satirical humour used much more affectionately by Stephen Leacock in "Sunshine Sketches of a Small Town," in which the narrator contrasts events as shown with timely descriptions from the characters' points of view, revealing them often to be self-deluding but also, in other instances, deliberately manipulative, not of the reader, but of other characters in the stories. It was probably used before Leacock, but I can't recall, or haven't noticed. If Thompson uses his technique in others of his books, I've missed that as well.

But Thompson does advance use of the technique at the beginning of "Pop. 1280" by opening with, what I took in hindsight to be the middle of, the narrator's scheme to manipulate the sheriff and deputy in the neighbouring town, thus misleading at least this reader for a spell as well.

Pretty fancy footwork, I think. Kerry

------------------------------------------------------ Literary events Calendar (South Ont.) The evil men do lives after them

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