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Pop. 1280 [Paperback]

Jim Thompson
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct. 3 1990 Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
As high sheriff of Potts County, Nick Corey spends most of his time eating, sleeping and avoiding trouble. If only people--especially some troublesome pimps, his foul-tempered wife, and his half-witted brother-in-law--would stop pushing him around. Because when Nick is pushed, he begins to kill . . . or to make others do his killing for him!

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Product Description


WWW.TANGLED-WEB.CO.UK featured a review of POP. 1280 on their site from the 21st March 03. This included a summary of the plot. WRITER'S JOURNAL will be publishing a large feature on Jim Thompson and will be mentioning our new titl --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

(1906 - 1977) James Meyers Thompson was born in Anadarko, Oklahoma. He began writing fiction at a very young age, selling his first story to True Detective when he was only fourteen. Thompson eventually wrote twenty-nine novels, all but three of which were published as paperback originals. Thompson also wrote two screenplays (for the Stanley Kubrick films “The Killing” and “Paths of Glory”). An outstanding crime writer, the world of his fiction is rife with violence and corruption. In examining the underbelly of human experience and American society in particular, Thompson’s work at its best is both philosophical and experimental. Several of his novels have been filmed by American and French directors, resulting in classic noir including The Killer Inside Me (1952), After Dark My Sweet (1955), and The Grifters (1963).

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars This One Creeps Up On You Sept. 8 2002
It would appear at the start of this book that Nick Corey, the sheriff of the town of Pottsville, is to be the hero of the story. He seems like a gentle, somewhat simple man who believes that inaction is always the most prudent course of action. He feels it "just wouldn't seem right" to have to arrest people, so generally, he doesn't. But slowly it began to dawn on me that this is a Jim Thompson book and there simply aren't heroes in his books.
It turns out that Nick Corey is quite similar to another Jim Thompson character, Lou Ford from The Killer Inside Me. In fact, it's worthwhile reading both books to compare these two characters. They are so different, yet incredibly similar.
The chilling thing about this book lies in how deeply convinced everyone is that Nick is a simpleton who is a harmless, lazy man. But the truth is apparent to the reader how rat-cunning he actually is. The desire to be re-elected to his post as sheriff drives his day-to-day activity and everyone underestimates just how far he'll go to ensure his re-election, myself included.
Apart from the sinister actions of Nick Corey, the story is actually quite amusing, told in the first person in a light and witty tone of voice. Nick manages to put an amusing spin on all aspects of his day-to-day life, most especially the parts in which he's doing absolutely nothing at all.
This is a typical Jim Thompson story. There are no heroes, as a matter of fact; there are few, if any, likable characters in the book. The main character narrates in a style that feels as though he's saying: here are the facts, make of them what you will. It's a chiller rather than a mystery and events took me by surprise more than once.
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I've read a lot of Thompson, and he really does have quite a few good ones under his belt, but this is far and away the crown jewel. It's The Killer Inside Me elevated to an entirely different level. Thompson tried his hand at crime fiction, depression-era social commentary, comedy and a host of other genres, and he seems to have combined everything he ever learned as a writer into the incredibly well-written, funny, shocking, economical Pop. 1280. Allright, it's a frickin masterpiece. It tempts one to use phrases like "one of the great achievements of 20th centurey American literature." It will, of course, never be regarded as such due to the modest circumstances under which Thompson wrote and was published, and the book itself is quite modest. Like it's main character and narrator, it presents itself as affable, charming but goofy, of no great consequence, lulls you, and then wallops you with the fact of how remarkable it is. Nonetheless, I honestly think this should be up there with Faulkner, et. al. when academics make their lists of the high points of American Modernism (or whatever).
Plotting isn't usually Thompson's strong suit, but Pop. 1280 is incredibly polished. Revelations that come later in the book are shocking, but on subsequent readings (which are well-deserved) it's obvious that they were being given away from the beginning. It's always quite an achievement when a writer manages this, and it's done perfectly here, and using a first-person narration.
Nick Corey is one of the most distinctive narrative voices I've ever read, and few writers have created a character more likeable, funny or disturbing.
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By Omni
What I enjoyed most about this book was the initial sense of timelessness. It was several chapters before I could accurately place when this was taking place. By then I was drawn into Nick Corey's internal world so well that I realized that I was in the mind of a sociopath, not an unlikeable one at that. What redeems him in the eyes of the reader is that he is playing these games with equally evil people who all have committed some type of crime that is glaringly apparent. Perhaps the girl who got away, cunning though she is, is the only one who proves to be close to innocent or good in the book. The story does successfully hold the reader in suspense as to everyone else's motives because we only see this world through the eyes of Corey. Perhaps that is also a slight failing of teh novel, Corey redeems himself with his perception and no one speaks or does anything to contest this, it's almost as if Corey is the Devil and all of these people don't realize that they're in Hell yet, his pawns for manipulation. The motives for manipulation are a little thin too---beyond simple malice so Corey comes off a little too smart for his own good, he wasn't really challeneged by anyone, he simply decided one day to pull the pin on everyone. I think that perhaps even crazy/evil people get frustrated with people, get challenged. All in all still an excellent exercise in concise writing, dialogue and manipulation, I even went and got the French film just to see what I had imagined, and see how someone else had imagined it. Would be great to see as a movie today but it's too Un-American towards the old west for anyone in teh bubblegum Hollywood to risk.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars bloody funny
Since reviews must be at least 20 words long, some padding has been added to the review which states that this book is bloody and funny.
Published on Sept. 18 2011 by hughy
5.0 out of 5 stars Thompson's masterpiece
For my money, POP.1280, is Jim Thompson's best work, combining his talents for characterization, hard boiled crime tales, a sense of the absurd, and social commentary. Read more
Published on Dec 6 2003 by Max Durbin
5.0 out of 5 stars "Stranger" in a Familiar Land
Like other reviewers on this site, I beleive that Pop. 1280 is Thompson's best. No novel since Camus's The Stranger has so sucessfully explored the existentialist quandry in a... Read more
Published on March 10 2003 by Jurgen1919
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Thompson's Best
Jim Thompson tried a few different styles of narration in his books, with varying levels of success. But the first-person, interior perspective he uses in Pop. Read more
Published on Jan. 23 2003 by Jackson Pollock
5.0 out of 5 stars Greatest cop since Dirty Harry
Dude, this guy is the baddest sherriff in these here parts! He's a psycho, plain and simple! But man, is he cool!
Published on Oct. 23 2002 by "crispy500"
4.0 out of 5 stars One of Thompson's Best
POP. 1280 is in the tradition of other great Thompson books, such as THE KILLER INSIDE ME. The protagonist is a seemingly respectable, law-abiding citizen -- small-town Southern... Read more
Published on Oct. 6 2002 by Westley
5.0 out of 5 stars rock & roll
it dont git any better then this
joe bob says chech it out, man
Published on April 17 2002
4.0 out of 5 stars Second coming
Nick Corey is high sheriff of a small county and shouldn't have a worry in the world as long as he doesn't arrest anyone or at least anyone with money. Read more
Published on March 1 2002 by Paul Miller
4.0 out of 5 stars a mild variation on a proven theme..
The Killer Inside Me, a slick novel about a psychotic deputy sheriff in a small Texan town, is perhaps Jim Thompson's best known and most admired work. Read more
Published on Jan. 2 2002 by lazza
1.0 out of 5 stars Poorly written and tedious.
Jim Thompson achieved a measure of posthumous fame in the 1990's with the reissue of a number of his books. Read more
Published on Oct. 12 2001 by R. H OAKLEY
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