Elmore Leonard – The Big Bounce (1969)


“… Elmore Leonard‘s The Big Bounce, published straight to paperback in the States by Fawcett/Gold Medal in 1969. This copy came from the basement of a Cecil Court secondhand bookshop, for less than a tenner – quite a nice find, considering the only copies I’ve seen online are in the US and listed for rather more than a tenner (and with postage on top), and the book’s significance. Because The Big Bounce was Elmore Leonard’s first crime novel – or, more accurately, his first contemporaneously set novel. … Even at this early stage in his career, Leonard had a prose style all his own: lilting, deceptively easygoing, yet focused and intense; clever, lightly handled but thorough character work; and that gloriously naturalistic and yet still idiosyncratically Elmore-esque dialogue. The plot isn’t terribly complicated, but then Elmore Leonard plots rarely are; that aspect of writing just isn’t that important to him. A young drifter, Jack Ryan (no relation to Tom Clancy’s later CIA analyst-turned-president), takes a job working as a handyman at a Michigan lakeside cabana complex owned by local justice of the peace Walter Majestyk (no relation to Vincent Majestyk from Leonard’s own Mr. Majestyk). … Everything flows from character in an Elmore Leonard novel: the decisions the protagonists take and the ramifications of those decisions; the things they say or do to one another and the consequences of those actions. It helps that Leonard has a forensic eye for character – not in an overwritten, overly intrusive sense – for really, how well can we truly know one another (something that Leonard-through-Ryan reflects on late in the novel: ‘What good was being cool if you weren’t you? Whoever you are, Ryan thought’) – but in the way he observes the little details: a certain look shot across a bar booth; the cocked head and corner-of-an-eye glance when combing one’s hair in the mirror; the idle daydreams of a bored female holidaymaker, fantasizing about Ryan sweeping her off her feet. …”
Existential Ennui
The Atlantic: The Elmore Leonard Paradox
Elmore Leonard’s 11 Rules For Writing Fiction
W – Elmore Leonard
amazon: The Big Bounce

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