Wracking my brain here to come up with an opening likely to interest you in Lucky Bastard. Trying not to use the common clichés like “page turner” and “unforgettable characters” and “compelling story” and...feel free to add more, surely you've seen them. They multiply on Internet book sites like fruit flies on spoiled bananas. This time they happen to be right, the clichés, but why take my word for it. Let Lucky Bastard show you:
I was watching the Discovery Channel when I heard the explosion from her trailer. I recognized it for a gunshot, and fearing the worst, headed over. None of the other neighbors seemed to notice, but then we got more than our share of gunshots at Catawba Estates.
Jolene was in her underwear. She stood in the middle of her living room, a beer in one hand, Carlisle's .50 caliber Desert Eagle in the other. Her TV lay in pieces across the room. She claimed she'd hit Larry King right between the eyes.
“Nice shot,” I said.
Now, if that sample of author Gary Powell's writing doesn't entice you to stop reading this right now and click the link—here--to order your own copy of Lucky Bastard I am going to have to shake my head and wonder just what in hell is wrong with you. I mean, look: those three paragraphs up there—which comprise the beginning of Lucky Bastard's opening scene—have everything the above mentioned clichés promise, and more.
Those two characters are already unforgettable. Admit it! If you're male you're thinking about Jolene holding a smoking pistol in her underwear right now, and you will continue thinking about her for a good long time. If you're female you will be wondering what it might be like to stand in a trailer in your underwear holding a smoking pistol and have your neighbor—whose name, by the way, is Jimmy McClean--stick his head in and compliment you on your shooting. True, you might not continue thinking about it as long as us guys will, but, hey, vive la différence, non?
Getting serious now...oh, I should note that “wry humor” is another of the common complimentary clichés I wanted to avoid using, but you must admit--you cannot deny--that the opening to Lucky Bastard you've just read veritably pulses with wry humor. And there's more. Much more. Trust me.
Compelling story? Aw, come on. Are you that demanding? Haha, just joshing. Enraptured at the get-go, I was pulled relentlessly by Powell's crafty narrative through the entire book, barely pausing to pee, snickering, guffawing, gasping, and flipping pages with the impatience of a tax auditor on the scent of fraud. And yes I got what I was after. A deliciously satisfying, undeniable five-star read.
I should mention that as I was reading Lucky Bastard I started thinking Jimmy McClean reminds me of someone. Another fictional character, whose adventures I followed a long time ago. Perhaps the name Travis McGee rings a bell. John D. MacDonald's fictional knight errant who brought fame and fortune to his author in twenty-one novels from 1964-84 rescuing distressed damsels and doing “favors” for unfortunate acquaintances while living on his boat, the Busted Flush, in a Fort Lauderdale marina.
Travis McGee makes his living as a self-described “salvage consultant.” Jimmy McClean is a professional handyman, who lives in a fictional trailer park near Charlotte, N.C. The two have more in common than they do differences. Both are decorated war veterans, both abide by a personal code of honor, they're environmentally conscientious, they can handle themselves and they won't put up with guff.
Assuming you'd like to know if Jimmy McClean and Jolene are getting it on, her husband's in Iraq, she wants a divorce, she's a knockout, and McClean already is divorced. You probably wouldn't believe me if I said no. If so, buy the book and find out for yourself.
I'd tell you about Jimmy McClean's crew—Harley and Pablo—but I'm running out of room. You do need to know this: they grow marijuana on the forty acres McClean owns behind the trailer park, without his permission. Needing the money desperately, and playing on his friendship, they persuade him to help them smuggle the harvested weed to Florida and sell it to someone representing a ruthless cartel. While there, McClean also intends to rescue his junkie niece he believes is living with a famous rapper named Li'l Purple whose bodyguard, Boss Wayne, has recently beaten a murder rap.
Oh, yes, Jolene goes along for the ride.
My advice, snap this book up ASAP on the chance it'll turn out to be the debut of a Jimmy McClean series that brings its author widespread fame and fortune. Owning a first edition of Lucky Bastard then would make you lucky.
In case you haven't recognized the name, Gary Powell is a highly regarded, decorated writer of short and flash fiction.