Bad Ronald - Jack Vance poor Ronald! an introvert, a dreamer, a lonely soul who creates his own intricately detailed fantasy world of wizards and adventure. what's a boy to do when he is left to his own devices, with no mother to take care of him, just a big old house that no longer even belongs to him. well, maybe just keep within the walls of the house, in that secret room, right? surely no one will notice! certainly not the family of four who innocently move into the house, naively thinking themselves its sole residents. little do they know... poor, creepy Ronald is watching their every move through the walls. shudder! maybe Ronald is in your house right now, watching YOU. say his name out loud three times in a mirror and see what happens!

Jack Vance is best known as one of the most elegant and individualistic writers of classic science fiction and fantasy. he is a true original and one of my favorite authors. and apparently, he had a profitable little sideline in MURDER! i'm not too familiar with his tales of murderous mysteries, mainly because they are fucking expensive beyond belief. i don't know how i even got a hold of this one. i should probably sell it, and make millions.

the writing is bone dry, which is typical for Vance. he does not sympathize with Ronald. he does not demonize Ronald either. Vance's portrait of a deranged, murderous teen outsider is dry, sly, a little evil, a lot cold-blooded. this is Vance in his stripped-down, streamlined mode, so no lush description. but lots and lots of skin-crawling, psychological ick. if you are able to find this one, prepare to read a story of murder and rape (molestation actually, ugh) that is creepy beyond belief but written in the style of an ironic and deadly little fairy tale for adults. at times i was reminded of the equally perverted tale of deranged kids, Banks' The Wasp Factory. both books have a lot of palpable tension and eerie weirdness mixed in with all of the darkly comic bits. but Bad Ronald also has two smart young ladies who know how to figure things out and then take care of business, hooray!

the character of Bad Ronald is at times grossly whiny and self-pitying, and therefore incredibly aggravating. sometimes when i add a book to GoodReads, i write a little placeholder, some sentences to remind me of my initial reaction. here's what i first wrote, who knows when:
i bet his face is just really... punchable. especially when he twists it up into that cringing, "boo hoo hoo poor me" expression that he loves so much. it is like he is secretly begging you to plant one on him, if only to get him to stop whinging & cringing.
my gosh, how unsympathetic. perhaps i am just as lacking in empathy and affect as Bad Ronald! apropos of nothing, i have to mention that that italicized bit was also my description of Justin Long, written somewhere else. i cannibalized myself in my own placeholder, huh. and on that note: