Review: Pop. 1280

Pop 1280

Wait this isn’t a Comic Book?

Surprisingly, I was able to find time to read more than just comic books recently. For the first time in a long while I read an actual novel. I don’t have time for the stuff that I have been reading consistently (comic books), so a novel really has the potential to throw off my rhythm.

I have a growing appreciation for crime noir comic books like Dark Corridor (reviewed in a 1 vs 1) and when Pop. 1280 by Jim Thompson was mentioned  in the back pages of issue #1, I decided to check it out from the library.

The worst thing that could happen would be that I wouldn’t finish it. Sidenote: I’m not one who likes to give up on stories, but basically because of time constraints I don’t have time to stick to something I don’t find amazing. So I’ve found myself recently giving up on the occasional book.

Spoiler Free Summary

Pop. 1280 is like the Andy Griffith Show, if Barney Fife was sheriff. Oh and if he were also an adulterous cold blooded killer.

I’m so used to rooting for a virtuous hero or a redeeming protagonist. No luck here. Every character is bad. None have redeeming qualities. It’s scum scheming against scum. Eventually, I found myself rooting for the universe. Waiting for the lies to collapse under their own weight. Anticipating the inevitable train wreck and hoping it finds more way to build up steam before its collision with reality.

Other Observations

I found it odd that while I was rooting against the narrator, I was also enjoying his humor. Perhaps it is a cautionary illustration of just how easy it is to be taken in by sociopaths. (if you want to read something narrated by someone who fits these 11 criteria you won’t be disappointed).

It’s easier to think you’re smarter than the narrator. After all pretty much every character in the book does (there is one who doesn’t, but I won’t spoil the ending).

Final Thoughts

One the reasons I’m reluctant to read novels at this phase of my life is that I only have time to read a few pages at a time. That worked out well for Pop. 1280. The book was published in the 1960’s and by today’s standards it would be considered a novella. Which means, it would never have a shot at being published in today’s market.



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