If they accumulate a catalog of work large enough, every author/artist will have what are considered to be “lesser works.” And while occasionally, there’s a hidden gem buried in there or something that appeals specifically to the client, they’re called “lesser works” for a reason.
I know a lot about Jim Thompson’s life and works but I didn’t know that Now And On Earth is 1. a semi-autobiography and 2. his very first book. It shows. We have an author with talent who doesn’t quite know what to do with it so he retells his family story in fictional form (Thompson did this more effectively in Bad Boy.).
And it’s just not an interesting story. For the first part, I thought Thompson was trying to do some sort of symbolic retelling of a man dwelling in hell because Dillon, his main character, certainly seemed like he was in it, being stuck in a low paying job he hates while trying to support a family that he also seems to hate. But unlike other great Thompson novels, there’s not the ribbon of crime to tie a bow on this story. There are some criminal elements but it’s not really what he’s emphasizing and when it comes together near the end, I was too exhausted to care.
While has moments of existential greatness, particularly in one scene with Dillon and his daughter that I won’t forget (as well as another dig at his father, which seems to be Thompson’s favorite thing), there’s just not much here to hold the reader’s attention. The main character is a tool and not an interesting one at that who hates everything, somewhat understandably but not enough to make him an interesting read. This is only for Thompson completists such as myself.