- Earl Thompson
:"For the gold medal winning Olympian, see
Earl Thomson."Infobox Person
name = Earl Thompson
image_size = 216px
caption = Earl Thompson
birth_date = birth date|1931|5|24|mf=y
death_date = death date and age|1978|11|9|1931|5|24|mf=y
death_place = Sausalito, California
occupation = American
Earl Thompson ( May 24, 1931 - November 9, 1978 ) was a leading American writer of naturalist prose whose premature death prevented him from achieving the long-standing popularity of other writers. Nominated for the National Book Award for "A Garden of Sand" and chosen by the Book of the Month Club for "Tattoo" [Caldo Largo, p. 282] , Thompson died suddenly at the peak of his success, having published just three novels -- the fourth "The Devil to Pay", was published posthumously.
Life and career
Thompson was born in Wichita, Kansas in 1931. His first novel "A Garden of Sand" describes the events of his birth and early childhood in vivid detail. "Tattoo" picks up where his first novel left off with his protagonist joining the U.S. Navy. Both novels are autobiographical, with the lead character Jack Andersen a close facsimile of Thompson himself.
Thompson's third novel "Caldo Largo" was his first to depart from his autobiographical preoccupations, although its main setting -- a fishing boat -- was one with which Thompson had had first-hand experience.
Two years after "Caldo Largo" was published, Thompson died of a heart-attack in Sausalito, California. His fourth and last book, "The Devil to Pay", returns to his autobiographical narrative -- this time with a nearly identical protagonist whose name is Jarl -- and was published after his death by Thompson's friend and estate executor Gilmer Y. Waggoner. The book is considerably shorter than the dense "A Garden of Sand" and its counterpart "Tattoo", raising the possibility that the book was semi-complete.
Thompson served in the U.S. Navy from 1945-46 and in the U.S. Army from 1948-54, serving as a Sergeant First Class, Tank Commander, and First Sergeant. He attended the University of Missouri from 1954-57, and Columbia University in 1959-60. Thompson lived in Europe for several years, and taught a novelist workshop at the University of California at Berkeley. [2. Caldo Largo [ibid.] ]
"A Garden of Sand". New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1970. Paperback edition: New York: Carroll & Graf, 1991.
"Tattoo". New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1974. Paperback edition: New York: Carroll & Graf, 1991.
"Caldo Largo". New York: G. P. Putnam's Son's, 1976. Paperback edition: New York: Carroll & Graf, 1991.
"The Devil to Pay". New York: New American Library, 1982.
The photograph of Earl Thompson above appears courtesy of Gilmer Waggoner.
1,2. Caldo Largo, p. 282
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