Sunday, December 02, 2012
Existential Ennui: Elmore Leonard’s Debut Crime Novel: The Big Bounce; First Edition
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. Up to this point in his career, Leonard had published only westerns – novels and short stories – pretty successfully in the 1950s, with two of them, 3:10 to Yuma and The Tall T – more on that one later – being made into films in 1957. As soon as he decided to leave his ad agency job in 1960, however, the western market died on its arse; as Leonard explains in his introduction to the 1989 Armchair Detective Library edition of The Big Bounce, for most of the rest of the decade he “wrote ads, promotional material, industrial and educational films, everything but cocktail napkins and not a word of fiction”. Eventually, the movie rights for his 1961 novel Hombre sold, and Leonard used the money to fund the writing of his “first novel with a contemporary setting, Mother, This is Jack Ryan”.