Sunday, August 16, 2009

Little Gifts

I love traveling around and noticing little details. While staying at the Big Spring National Park campground we passed this sign several times. Something about it kept bugging me. And then I realized that it held the title of one of my favorite crime novels--POP. 1280. POP. 1280 was written by a fellow named Jim Thompson. He was most active during the pulp era and his work was not highly regarded (save by some editors) during his lifetime. Even though at least one of his books was made into a major motion picture while he was still alive (GETAWAY starring Steve McQueen), he still never achieved much in the way of respect while he was on this side of the mortal curtain.

Briefly, POP. 1280 is about a seemingly benign local sheriff who is slowly revealed to be a murdering psychopath. This novel was so good that he wrote it twice. He first used the plot in a 1952 novel called THE KILLER INSIDE ME, which was made into a movie starring Stacy Keach in the 70s. And POP. 1280 was made into the French film Coup de Torchon in 1981. Both books use the same basic plot and follow a similar line of literary logic.

So there I was...passing this sign a few times when I realized why it kept nagging at me: the population number.

I didn't linger in Winona.


Jack said...

I am not familiar with that story. However, I few years ago I watched a movie called "Population 436" Ever since, I have been looking for one of those "Welcome to Wherever" signs with a Population 436. I haven't found one yet!

HemlockMan said...

If you like crime fiction, then POP. 1280 should be at the top of your to-read list. Many of Jim Thompson's books are excellent.

I've never heard of "Population 436". I'll search around.