Now and on Earth

Now and on Earth

Book - 1994
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With an Introduction by Stephen King Thompson is the best suspense writer going bar none.' - The New York Times'
Publisher: New York : Vintage Books, 1994
Edition: First Vintage crimeBlack Lizard edition
ISBN: 9780679740131
0679740139
Branch Call Number: FICTION Tho
Description: x, 306 pages ; 21 cm

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j
jimg2000
Apr 28, 2015

"No, you're not Jack London," said Mom, fumbling faster with the safety pin. "Jack London didn't give up just because he didn't have everything right like he wanted it. He wrote on fishing boats and in lumber camps and-"
...
"You didn't read your Jack London far enough. He began slipping off the deep end when he was thirty. Well I'm thirty-five. Thirty- five, can you understand that? And I've written three times as much as London wrote. I ..."

j
jimg2000
Apr 28, 2015

Some of the jobs in the plant -
Thompson worked in the stockroom:

I have, in all, four types of parts to keep record on: assembly, sub-assembly, and regular assembly-line issue. The fourth consists of parts such as cowling and firewalls, which, because they are bulky and difficult to handle, go direct to the assembly line-a fact which does not excuse us from keeping track of them. When a plane reaches a certain stage, it has a definite number of parts. We-I-am supposed to know what those parts are, regardless of whether I have seen them, and to show them as having been issued.
...
Dispatching, Production, expediter, Material Control, Sheetmetal, Sub-assembly, Factory manager, Plating, Painting, Planning, Lofting, Drophammer, Plannishing, Punchpress, Sewing, Singing, Praying'

(There are of course others like finance, contract proposals, Engineering and those who generated part numbers and create 'travelers' etc. Days before computer replaces most of them)

j
jimg2000
Apr 28, 2015

There is one expediter for every two positions on Final Assembly, and one each for Wing and Control Surfaces ... It is my opinion and the opinion of every other stockroom worker that they are damned nuisances who actually slow things down instead of speeding them up. But I suppose we're prejudiced. Practically every defense plant has them; if they weren't a necessity, they wouldn't be there. Blueprints and work orders get mislaid; foremen keep putting off a difficult job for an easy one; parts become buried in the various stockrooms; move-boys pile finished parts in with unfinished. So the expediters, who speed from one end of the plant to the other, who keep themselves informed of plans before they are reduced to paper, who are bursting with knowledge of every phase of production connected with their project - they really are necessary.

j
jimg2000
Apr 28, 2015

Here's your first item- -a bulkhead bracket, Number F-1198. We use four of those to a ship. We've issued forty to Final Assembly, and we have forty-three in stock. That gives us a shortage of seventeen. Twenty-five ships would require a hundred parts, and eighty-three from a hundred leaves seventeen.

We only looked through the door of the Plannishing Department, and that was enough to give me a headache for the rest of the morning. Here the castings are run back and forth through a series of rapidly moving hammers until they are beaten smooth; and the noise is too frightful to describe. It has no cadence; you can't accustom yourself to it.

I wanted to be a violinist. At least, I wanted to get away from jobs where people snubbed and swore at you. I wanted never to have to ask any one for money. I wanted attention, and admiration, and the chance to express myself. I started to write. You could get a pencil and a piece of paper anywhere.

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j
jimg2000
Apr 28, 2015

Thanks to the revival of Thompson's work in books and movies, I am binge reading his work, mostly published in the 40's and 50's. This one was his very first published novel in 1942. Born in 1906, his novels hit plenty of difficult and complex times: WWI-1917, The Great Depression-1929, WWII, McCarthyism etc. To me, the old days/ways are new today. Amazed with the vivid documentary on the people, politics and processes inside a San Diego military manufacturing plant.

--The intro by Stephen King dated Sep 1985 was a good read by itself:
Someone has to examine the stool samples of society; someone has to describe those tumors from which more cultured people shy away. Jim Thompson was one of the few.

-- Summary from wiki is succinct:
Set in San Diego during World War II, it is a semi-autobiographical description of the author's life working in an airplane manufacturing plant during the war years and the frustrations he endured there and in his personal life at the time. The main character is named James Dillon, a pen name under which Thompson had previously published short stories.

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