An underaged bellboy thrust into an awful intimacy with grown-up vice. An alcoholic writer trying to postpone a crack-up just long enough to finish his next book. A wildly dysfunctional Okie family floundering on the edge of mutual destruction amid the deceptive plenty of wartime California. These are the ingredients of Jim Thompson's devastating and eerily autobiographical first novel. In Now and On Earth, America's hard-boiled Dante ushers readers into his own personal hell and limns its suffering inhabitants with bleak humor and compassion.