Best 1963 Adventures (6)
September 14, 2018
One in a series of 10 posts identifying Josh Glenn’s favorite 1963 adventure novels. Happy 55th anniversary!
Jim Thompson‘s crime adventure The Grifters.
When Roy Dillon, a young salesman and grifter in Los Angeles, winds up in the hospital after one of his marks hits him in the stomach with a baseball bat, he contemplates going straight. After all, he’s stashed away fifty thousand dollars in his hotel room. Then his neglectful mother, Lilly, a long-time hustler and con artist who is only 14 years older than Roy, shows up out of the blue. Lilly begins manipulating her son, for example, by hiring a sexy nurse to care for him in his convalescence — in order to drive away Roy’s older girlfriend, Moira Langtry, who believes that Roy is merely a salesman. Moira strongly resembles Lilly, which leads us to believe that Roy struggles with incestuous desire for his own mother; the resemblance may also work to Lilly’s advantage in another way. The surprises and twists keep coming; the con artists con each other, and ultimately themselves; poor Roy can’t trust anyone, but he lets his guard down. Among other things, the book is a primer on con games, and a polemic about alienated modern urbanites.
Fun facts: Adapted into a 1990 neo-noir movie by Stephen Frears. John Cusack, Annette Bening, and Anjelica Huston played the principal roles.
JOSH GLENN’S *BEST ADVENTURES* LISTS: BEST 250 ADVENTURES OF THE 20TH CENTURY | 100 BEST OUGHTS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST RADIUM AGE (PROTO-)SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TEENS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TWENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST THIRTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST GOLDEN AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FORTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FIFTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SIXTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST NEW WAVE SCI FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SEVENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST EIGHTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST DIAMOND AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST NINETIES ADVENTURES (in progress) | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | NOTES ON 21st-CENTURY ADVENTURES.