San Diego in the years before World War II. James Dillon is barely scraping by working a menial job in manufacturing, trying to raise a family and support his elderly mother and sister Frankie at the same time. He drinks too hard — just like his father and nearly everyone in his extended family. With so many people crammed into one home, sometimes there’s so much fighting he can barely stand it. But if James can survive the chaos of everyday life long enough, maybe — just maybe — there’s a chance it’ll all get better.
Now and on Earth, Jim Thompson’s first novel, draws on personal experience to depict a hardscrabble life in the sun-soaked streets of mid-20th century California. Chronicling the birth of a writer and the plight of the working man, it prefigures the American classics that followed, in a deeply-felt, autobiographical tale that shows a writer just coming into his own.