Re: RARA-AVIS: The Big Bite

From: Ed Lynskey (
Date: 12 Oct 2006

Thanks for the long post, Jeff. I enjoyed reading your comments. THE BIG BITE is one Charles Williams' pulp I haven't read. I'll look for it now.


--- Jeff Vorzimmer <> wrote:

> I'll have to call this my Indian Summer of Charles Williams.
> After taking
> some time off to read some Donald Hamilton and Jason's new
> book, I fell off
> the wagon and back on Charles Williams like a bad habit. I
> know the day is
> coming soon when I won't have any more Charles Williams to
> read and I hope
> to God I'll find another writer I like as well (I've read
> almost all of
> Thompson and Goodis).
> The good news is that I couldn't have picked a better book of
> his to read. I
> would say The Big Bite is Williams' best novel and I've now
> read the
> majority of them. I was hooked from the very beginning. Good
> harboiled
> wise-cracking dialogue, the femme fatale--it's all there. If
> you read and
> liked Hell Hath No Fury, A Touch of Death and Nothing in Her
> Way, this one
> is a must.
> I would go so far as to say it's the best hardboiled crime
> book I've ever
> read. It's perfect in every way, not a single misstep. You
> might even call
> it the definitive hardboiled book. I liked it so much that I
> spent some time
> thinking about the elements that went into the making of the
> perfect book in
> this genre. This is what I came up with:
> 1. Tough wise-cracking dialogue
> 2. An unsympathetic protagonist (who you none-the-less
> identify with)
> 3. A femme fatale
> 4. Sexual tension
> 5. Ironic plot twists
> 6. A tough brutal thug (the nemesis of the main character)
> 7. A sense though out that all the characters are doomed
> The Big Bite has all these elements in spades. It's what has
> made Williams
> my favorite author. In Hardboiled America Geoffrey O'Brien
> said it was his
> best novel and I know many of you concur or think that it's at
> least one of
> his best novels (it's hard to choose among the many great
> novels he wrote).
> It was Jason Starr's suggestion for a Hard Case Crime title. I
> agree with
> everything that's been said about the novel. Here are some
> samples of the
> dialogue:
> "Say a hundred grand." Split seventy-five, twenty-five."
> "Seventy-five for me?"
> He shook his head with a kind of pained expression on his
> face.
> "Seventy-five for me, chum."
> "Back off and look again," I said. "The wind's whistling
> through your head."
> "How's that?"
> "Who got run over that night? You, or me?"
> "Is blackmail a new field for you?
> "Maiden voyage."
> "I must say you have a masterly grasp of its intricacies, for
> a beginner."
> "Thank you. I like your legs."
> "You don't have any trouble with the moral aspects?"
> "Why should I? I'm just a press agent in reverse. You're
> paying me to keep
> you off the front page."
> The brown eyes met mine probingly. "Never mind the comic
> rationalization. It
> doesn't bother you in the slightest, does it?
> "No. I'm a bastard. I admit it."
> "Frank, to say the least."
> "Look it's a jungle. They throw you into it naked, and sixty
> years later
> they carry you off in a box. You just do the best you can."
> She smiled a little mockingly. "Ah. The beginnings of thought.
> You're a
> nihilist."
> "That's out of style," I said. "Nobody's been one for years."
> "You are surprising. I didn't think you knew what it meant."
> "Duh," I said. "I saw it in a comic book."
> I guess that's enough to say about one book.
> Jeff

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