Re: RARA-AVIS: Jim Thompson: Where'd He Go?

From: Patrick King (
Date: 20 Feb 2010

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    That figure can't be right, can it? Or else Thompson was even worse at business than we ever suspected. If they were selling millions (millions!) of copies of his books back in the forties and fifties, why was he pretty much forgotten until the mid-to-late eighties -- and why did he end up with such lousy, mostly paperback-only publishers for much of his career?


    Anybody remember Jacqueline Suzanne, Harold Robins, Irving Wallace, Ira Levine, Frank Yerby? How about Grace Metalious? It is not at all uncommon for million selling authors to be almost completely forgotten a mere two decades after their successes.

    I don't think the million mark is accurate in terms of Jim Thompson, either. But I do think that today he is vastly more significant in academic circles than any of the multi-million selling authors I've just sited. These people were sometimes weekly guests on the Johnny Carson Show forty years ago, but today their books are often not even found in libraries.

    Popularity is a style. The only things that do not go out of style are classics. Jim Thompson's works have become classics in their genre.

    Patrick King


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