With the death this week of Jack Vance at age 96, the world has lost one of its greatest
For my part, I'd like to recommend his 1973 suspense novel Bad Ronald, published under his full name, John Holbrook Vance. I read this book when it first came out and have never forgotten it. I don't think you will either. In my mind, the novel channels Vance's inner Robert Bloch. The story concentrates on a chilling and unbelievable premise that Vance turns into completely believable novel. Ronald, you see, lives his secret life in a secret room under the stairs in a house where the family that lives there has no idea they have him as a tenant. And Ronald, being Ronald, is not like the other children. In fact, Ronald can be very dangerous.
In 1974 Bad Ronald was turned into an ABC Movie of the Week, starring Scott Jacoby in the title role, with Pippa Scott, Dabney Coleman, and Kim Hunter. The movie was heavily promoted and some consider a classic of its type. Most people, including myself, rate it a bit above average. The film just could not transmit the atmosphere of evil that Vance had imbued in the novel.
Here's a clip from the film:
Catherine Heigel starred in the French remake Mechant Garcon (1992), with Joachim Lombard as Ronald. I don't know how successful this film was, but I fear it fell short of the mark. A proposed 2010 remake for Dimension Films evidently fell into development hell.
Give this book -- or any book by Vance -- a try. You won't be sorry
Thansk very much for this Jerry - I've read only a handful of Vance's books (mainly the Queen books and some of the short stories) but this sounds great (and I love Bloch so that's a great touchstone) - definitely want to get a copy (and see the movies too) - cheers.ReplyDelete
I'd love to read it if I could only find a copy I can afford! BAD RONALD is one of the most absurdly overpriced collectible cult books I know of. $50, $60, $80, $95... for a 1970s paperback? And the hardcover is out of the ball park. I remember the movie from my teen years and thought it beyond creepy. It was talked about for weeks after it was on TV. "Bad Ronald" even became a taunt and an insult in the lunchroom and on the bus.ReplyDelete
Jerry, this is a marvelous tribute to a great writer! I've read Jack Vance's works for decades. Great stuff! John, Subterranean Press has been reprinting Vance's non-SF novels. BAD RONALD should be reprinted in the next omnibus volume.ReplyDelete
I'd love to read this book. The premise is very creepy. Thanks for visiting my blog.ReplyDelete
Fine review, Jerry. Interesting that Scott Jacoby went from playing Bad Ronald to starring opposite Jodie Foster two years later as her champion in The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane.ReplyDelete