The Grifters

The Grifters✮ [PDF] ✩ The Grifters By Jim Thompson ✻ – To his friends to his coworkers and even to his mistress Moira Roy Dillon is an honest hardworking salesman He lives in a cheap hotel just within his pay bracket He goes to work every day He has hundr To his friends to his coworkers and even to his mistress Moira Roy Dillon is an honest hardworking salesman He lives in a cheap hotel just within his pay bracket He goes to work every day He has hundreds of friends and associates who could attest to his good characterYet hidden behind three gaudy clown paintings in Roy's pallid hotel room sits fifty two thousand dollars the money Roy makes from his short cons his grifting For years Roy has effortlessly maintained control over his house of cards life until the simplest con goes wrong and he finds himself critically injured and at the mercy of the most dangerous woman he ever met his own motherThe Grifters one of the best novels ever written about the art of the con is an ingeniously crafted story of deception and betrayal that was the basis for Stephen Frears' and Martin Scorsese's critically acclaimed film of the same name. For all you Petey Positives and Betty Bright sides out there peering around corners looking for humanity’s better angels Jim Thompson is slinging a sledge hammer ready to shatter your shiny happy illusions His message people well and truly suck Personally I’m enough of a cynic regarding my fellow humans that Jimmy’s words don't choke me going down They're like 18 year old scotch warming up my cockles In this “slice the vein of life” story Jim introduces us to 3 peas in a seriously fuckoed pod We have Roy Dillon a 25 year old smart savvy small time con artist with mother issues than Norman Bates Roy's a very successful short con operator who suffers a major set back at the beginning of story when “a mark” detects his scam and gives him what for in the stomach with a heavy clubHARD Next we have “Roy’s mother issue” herself Lilly Dillon who at 39 years old she had Roy at 14 has been grifting longer than Roy’s been breathing Lilly works for a big time mobster named Bobo Justus where she travels to horse races and places bets on “long shots” for the big gambling syndicates in order to bring the odds down Finally we have Moira Langtry Roy’s older girl friend who bears an eerie resemblance to Lilly and is uite a shitty little person in her own right Moira used to work a two man “long con” for big money and is now searching for a new partner Hmmany guesses? In the meantime she gets by trading sex for rent food drinks and other assorted sundries Well these 3 sharks in designer clothes all come together when Roy’s tummy trouble turns out to be rather serious and gets him hospitalized Enter Carol Roberg part time nurse at the hospital and the one ray of bright light in this sordid American tale Carol is kind gentle generous pretty very naive and harbors a painfully dark secret that I won’t spoil here however I warn you that I audibly gasped when I found out Carol becomes a chunk of wood between the twin buzz saws of Lilly and Roy with Moiry in the corner holding a jar of salt and some lemon juice for the clean up However compared to what the three do to themselves and each other Carol ends up getting off comparatively light This story is bleak It's subtle yet savage and spends all its time showing us the lives of 3 people who combined have less heart than the Grinch before the “Whos” started caroling What they do to one another is sometimes tough to watch but when a good normal person crosses their path it's like a feeding frenzy HOWEVER what's most amazing about Thompson’s story is that he has you constantly on the edge of “feeling something” for these characters especially Roy with whom we spend the most page time Roy is scarred and damaged from upbringing with Lilly but there are shreds of the good person still inside the person who wants to lead a normal life and do the right thing There were several times while reading this that my mind was screaming at the page for Roy to take one road rather than anotherthe guy killed me This is what Thompson is so good at literary sadist that he is He makes you “feel” for his characters I won’t call it pity or even understanding but a hope that they are about to listen to the fading image of their conscience and do the right thing Thompson has a real gift for showing you very dark damaged people and getting you to see through their eyes He doesn’t want you to agree with what they do and he isn’t looking to justify their actions but he can make their inhuman cruelty seem very very human Of course this kind of writing rips me up inside and makes me want to slap him in the sack with a black jack because of it He deserves it believe me One last thingthe end is AMAZING and will absolutely floor you You've been warnedOverall this was dark and depressing and I loved it The only thing that keeps me from giving it 5 stars is that I'd previously seen the movie with John Cusack Angelica Huston and Annette Bening about 5 times before reading this I obviously loved it and so the suspense was a bit watered down Those that haven’t yet seen the movie I would recommend reading the book first and then watching the film You will love both 45 stars HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION Salesman Roy Dillon has a secret life as a top shelf grifter When he has the opportunity to go legit how will the women in his life take it? Will his downfall be at the hands of his girlfriend Moira Langtry or his mother Lilly?Here we are another noir tale of self destruction by Mr Happy Jim ThompsonDon't trust anyone ever seems to be the moral of The Grifters Not surprising since most of the main characters are shady croooks and grifters to some degree Roy runs short cons Moira Langtry pays her way through life with her body Lilly Dillon is mixed up with some shady gamblers Not one of them should be left unsupervisedRoy's a little sympathetic than most Jim Thompson leads He's conflicted about his grifting lifestyle and just seems tired Not only that he's got serious mommy issues nicely illustrated by the resemblance between his girlfriend and his mother The Grifters is a slow burn and the ending is pretty spectacular cold violent and than a little creepy I've seen similar endings written since but I don't think any of them were as effective This is a top shelf Jim Thompson book belonging on the same tier as The Killer Inside Me and Pop 1280 Four out of five stars I'm not a big Jim Thompson fan When it comes to American crime fiction I prefer the novels of Charles Willeford and Charles Williams over the ones by Thompson I am often irritated by Thompson's lack of attention to detail over the top dialog and faux vicious and corrupt characters I hated The Killer Inside Me and only enjoyed parts of The Getaway But The Grifters was uite impressive Roy Dillon is an undercover conman who is trying to escape from the incestuous clutches of his mother Lily Dillon while also trying to choose between his lover Moira Langtry who looks a lot like his mother and the innocent Jewish nurse Carol Roberg even as he recovers from an internal hemorrhage picked up during a minor con job Every character has a backstory that is narrated through flashback Moira Langtry's flashback was excellent So were the descriptions of Roy Dillon's methodsThe book suffers from some of the irritations that I mentioned at the start But Thompson keeps it entertaining throughout and throws in a couple of glorious twists towards the end This is the story of a small time con man and the three women in his life His young mother who has been absent most of his life is also a grifter as is his sometimes girlfriend These are not nice people The “good girl” in the book is a nurse This book is ice cold just like the movie although the movie slightly softened the mother’s character at the end Maybe they thought audiences couldn’t handle a mother who was that remorseless I am going to work my way through the rest of Jim Thompson’s books There was one thing about playing the angles If you played them long enough you knew the other guy's as well as you knew your own Most of the time it was like you were looking out the same window Roy Dillon grifter extraordinaire was always playing the angles Though Roy is undoubtedly our protagonist this really is of an ensemble piece While The Killer Inside Me and Pop 1280 are meditations on if you can call such depraved tales “meditations” the existence of one twisted mind amid a world filled with easy marks and clueless rubes Roy is not a lone fox in a hen house His mother Lilly and paramour Moira are stars in acts of their own giving rise to deliciously unpredictable interactions where you're never uite sure who is playing whomThis wasn't my first ticket to the Jim Thompson show so while I was expecting a level of darkness that begs for a stronger word than simply noir I was not expecting was the elegance of it all It wasn't so much that the twists simply surprised me or proved me right or wrong they brought a level of near existential reflection and depth that gave a sort of bonus gravitas to an already well written highly recommended riveting read about ever precarious life on Uneasy Street For a fearful shadow lies constantly over the residents of Uneasy Street It casts itself through the ostensibly friendly handshake or the gorgeously wrapped package It beams out from the baby's carriage the barber's chair the beauty parlor Every neighbor is suspect every outsider everyone period; even one's own husband or wife or sweetheart There is no ease on Uneasy Street The longer one's tenancy the untenable it becomes 910 stars but this one definitely deserved to be rounded up for Goodreads Bonus thoughts andor commentsI for one didn't know what a punchboard was so I figured I'd share with the class Also as severe blows to the abdomen play a role in the story my thoughts uickly turned to Harry Houdini and thus yes obviously ArcherCyril I’m so sorry I slammed you in the gut Jeez that’s how Houdini diedPam Houdini died of AIDSCyril No Why do you always say that? Archer Medical fact CyrilIf you get hit in the chest between heartbeats you can dieGo ask HoudiniPam chuckling Ask him what how to get AIDS? Ok guys here goes I started to read The Grifters and got about 70 pages in until I began to wonder whether or not I was reading the right book Like maybe it was a novelization of the movie which I haven't seen? Because not only did I love the two other Jim Thompson books I've read previously but so many people are fans of this particular book and it couldn't possibly be the one I was reading right? I was expecting an entertaining con man thriller at worst or another masterpiece of noir at best But what I was reading was a bland soap opera about a love triangle between a short con artist his mother and his girlfriend Maybe if I knew that's what it was from the start I would've enjoyed it It just kept going back and forth about Roy's mommy issues and his conflicting desires to leave grifting behind I even looked up the Wikipedia synopsis to make sure that I wasn't missing anything I wasn't I was pretty uninterested but I thought Okay this is building a set up and then Thompson is gonna start putting it into overdrive in the 2nd half Then the 2nd half of the book came and went And it was of the same even up to the ending that people supposedly love A big redeeming factor though is that Thompson's narrative voice is so enjoyable to read That kept me going But ultimately I was disappointed that this one wasn't for me and I'm most definitely in the very small minority I thought the characters were easily forgettable and story itself pretty uneventful If people have read or even heard of this book it's probably because of the movie which is a shame I only bought this book because a movie tie in was on sale for five bucks at a local Half Price and there was an evil character named Moira which amused me and it would take a far stronger character than mine to withstand those twin temptations I have not seen the movie mainly because an evil John Cusack would throw my hard wired Say AnythingGrosse Pointe Blank fangirl brane into disarray I'm supposed to be watching the pawns get marched out in the opening words of AS Byatt's The Game but I read a few pages from the middle of this book got hooked on the short evocative deceptively simple sentences read a few sections and flipped back to the beginning to start properly yeah I freuently read mysteries starting with the end so I know whodunnit Sometimes if I try reading mysteries from the beginning without knowing the end I can't properly focus on the story It's a sickness I know Unfortunately it will be impossible to say anything about the spring loaded plot which keeps snapping shut on your fingers as you turn pages without utterly spoiling it so I won't I will just say this I have read a lot of gritty noir stories with trick climaxes and twist endings This one works because it's not just a showoff gotcha on the reader no I'm not STILL BITTER about Roger Ackroyd thanks for asking Surprises and deceptions are woven into the narrative like they're shot through the lives of the characters trapped in it It all fits together with such bleak neatness it feels fated Other people have called this book grim depressing nihilistic and sure it is all these things but there's also a clean brutality about it that's almost exhilarating like seeing the excellence displayed at the races that feature in one of the book's subplots No nobody really escapes and there's no happy ending that can't really be a spoiler but when someone sets down so much truth so well in such a short space all I can do is catch my breath and say WowI love inside details about cons but this book despite some good descriptions of the lives of petty thieves and grifters isn't really about that it's one attempt at a portrait of Los Angeles and pointedly at the end a character walks 'out of the room and the hotel and out into the City of Angels' The antihero picks Los Angeles as a safe place to practice in after he spends too long in too small a section of New York out of ignorance and the anonymous fragmented fractured alienated and alienating life he shares with millions of others is the real point; Thompson details these atomistic existences carefully without political or socioeconomic reproaches just as damning and neutral as a Walker Evans Depression era photo You can see how someone could read it and might want to make a non chronologically straightforward movie like Memento out of it freuently a scene starts in media res then there's a little flashback to an even earlier scene and on top of that the scene we originally start with begins right after something big exploded and small remnants of dialogue from that event in italics punctuate the narrative like little bits of reported shrapnel There are small neat precise little prose poems about the paranoia of small time crooks how to set up dice games and so on but the story doesn't depend on technical accounts of the tricks altho we get brief vivid details of the 'tat' the 'twenty' and a few other schemes The cons themselves work because of the nature of modern city life people are so alienated that they take the manufactured counterfeit moments of intimacy that con games need to work 'con' isn't shortened from 'confidence' for nothing as the real deal which is what lets the grifters make the marks The table the games run on isn't the scarred wood of a bar or a smooth green field of poker felt but as always the human heart Emotions are what makes con games possible; a classic example of this is David Mamet's intricate House of Games where being let in on the con is itself a form of the con Several characters in this novel fantasize about setting up 'long' cons as opposed to 'short' cons like tricking a harassed cashier out of change for a twenty but the truth is in life no long con is possible at all Cons depend on burning up human relationships trust ignorance innocence the very idea that the person smiling at you isn't sizing up your every tell like jet engines eat rocket fuel But there's another side to this that goes back far before David Mamet or counting cards to Falstaff's mock tragic cry when Prince Hal and Poins scheme within a scheme to set him up a plague upon it when thieves cannot be true one to another The novel's events inform us that just as cons can't stop conning even other cons their actions make themselves marks in a way other people can't even imagine In a neat little seuence one man sees a punchboard in a bar and is taken aback since they are one of the lowest cheapest kinds of con the person running the board punches out all the top prize slots so noone ever has a chance to win But this bartender has been a sucker leaving his board clean so the con starts running a game on him rationalizing it's for the man's own good to tell him about the con itself would mean giving away 'knowledge no honest person should have' and he thinks he'll instead refuse his winnings saying the board must be defective and get the bartender to toss it without realizing he's been duped But just then an undercover cop busts the bartender for not having a federal gambling tax stamp and the con man for running 'bunco' The person who imagines they're running the game is of course the biggest sucker of all Noir? There's got to be something darker than that to describe Thompson's books Something that doesn't just imply the absence of colour or light but the impossibility of their ever having existed in the first place I liked this one a lot even better than The Getaway though perhaps not as much as The Killer Inside Me Roy Dillon like most of Thompson's protagonists is young charming and crooked The son of a similarly charming and crooked con woman he's been living in Los Angeles and working a shrewd set of short term con jobs alongside the facade of a respectable life But one day he picks the wrong patsy and receives a blow to the stomach that causes internal bleeding Vulnerable he soon finds himself in a deadly love uadrilateral involving his seductive self serving mother Lilly his eually alluring lover Myra who has a few secrets he doesn't know yet and the innocent but scarred nurse Carol He's put through the wringer in this novel and he thinks he's decided to go straight by the time it's all over But things never uite work that way in a Thompson novel and the brutality of the final two twists in the tale left me astonished and a little breathless I would love to imagine that Thompson was writing about some other species on some other planet; perhaps the most terrifying thing about his novels is that they are fiction with the stamp of truth “A confidence trick is also known as a con game a con a scam a grift a hustle a bunko or bunco a swindle a flimflam a gaffle or a bamboozle The intended victims are known as marks suckers or gulls ie gullible When accomplices are employed they are known as shills”—WikipediaTo grift is to engage in petty swindling Until this week I had never read The Grifters 1963 but had seen several times the film with Jon Cusack Annette Bening and Anjelica Huston and loved it a classic I recently read one of Thompson’s other classics The Killer Inside Me 1952 that I found deliciously vicious but admittedly at times a little too brutal The Grifters dials down the viciousness and focuses on mostly the emotional states of short con grifter Roy his long con grifter mother Lily and Roy’s girlfriend that looks very much like Lily Moira but it is eually delicious in its own way The Grifters in spite of its pulpy themes has a real literary foundation Okay he’s not Hemingway but like many of the noir writers of the mid last century he was influenced by him He was also influenced by his favorite author Dostoevsky who like Thompson chronicled the down and out gamblers and alcoholics the lost souls Thompson was nicknamed the Dimestore Dostoevsky by writer Geoffrey O'Brien who also found elements of Greek tragedy in Thompson’s themes As with Dostoevsky Thompson can be very clever and very funny and surely is both in The Grifters“Moira purred ‘Gosh Roy I have no idea how I can ever thank you’‘Hmm’ Roy said ‘Maybe I can think of something Maybe you can wash my socks or something”Okay okay maybe that's not that funny or clever but hey I smiled But in general here Thompson calls on the darker side of Dostoevsky focusing on the burned out fragile lives of Roy and Lily who are just sick to death of the grift grindstone“There was too much of a sameness about the evening’s delights He had been the same route too many times He’d been there before so double damned often and however you traveled—backward forward or walking on your hands—you always got to the same place You got nowhere in other words and each trip took a little out of you” And “He Roy picked her Moira up and tossed her on the bedThey had a hell of a timeBut afterward after she had gone back to her own room depression came to him and what had seemed like such a hell of a time became distasteful even a little disgusting It was the depression of surfeit the tail of self indulgence’s kite You flew high wide and handsome imposing on the breeze that might have wafted you along indefinitely; and then it was gone and down down down you went” And once again“Strolling down a white graveled walk to the cliff above the ocean he let his eyes rove aimlessly over the expanse of sea and sand The icy looking whitecaps the blinking faraway sails of boats the sweeping constantly searching gulls Desolation Eternal infinite Like Dostoevsky’s conception of eternity a fly circling about a privy the few signs of life only emphasized the loneliness”Okay that’s not maybe uite Dostoevesky level writing it’s maybe “dimestore” Dostoevsky but I don’t want to get all snobby about it either; it is one of the virtues of noir that it combines sort of maudlin over the top realism and poetry Back to O’Brien’s contention about Greek themes Roy has Oedipal level feelings for his mother which works out in an interesting way I will not discuss since it very much involves the wonderful twists and turns of the ending to this short book that made me literally shout out loud with joy whoo what an ending terrific And is the book better than the movie? Yep At the very least it adds a layer of existential angst the movie leaves out Crazy people that I hope I never run into in real life If I do I am turning the other way and running This author's works are kind of addictive Already looking forward to the next one

The Grifters eBook ¿ Paperback
  • Paperback
  • 189 pages
  • The Grifters
  • Jim Thompson
  • English
  • 10 August 2016
  • 9780679732488