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Friday, 7 August 2020

✉ Less is More by Jeff Bond

Today returning author takes over our blog to tell us about how 'Less is More'.

Dear Durwood
 (, Jeff Bond, 175 pages), an Action-Adventure Western Romance, book two in the Third Chance Enterprises series, is Jeff's latest release.

"Durwood Oak Jones is an uncompromising man of rough charm and considerable principle ... add the rugged, resourcefulness of a Clint Eastwood lead, as well as a dash of playful Southern-isms, and what readers get is a wholly unique feeling main man ... The story itself is perfectly paced - as swift and sure as Durwood's own pursuit of justice and truth ... the most pleasantly surprising part of DEAR DURWOOD is the author's confident, clear prose. Bond's style is spare, but he paints the settings with sure strokes so that readers will not just see, but feel the place, effortlessly holding it in their minds." ~ IndieReader

|| Synopsis || Teaser: KCR Preview || The Series || Author Guest Post || About the Author || Giveaway & Tour Stops ||

Less is More

by Jeff Bond

At the beginning of Anarchy of the Mice, book one of the Third Chance Enterprises series, the two male heroes are described as such:
Quaid and Durwood shared the same vital stats, six one and 180-something pounds, but God himself couldn’t have created two more different molds.  Quaid in a sport coat with suntanned wrists and mussed-just-so blond hair.  Durwood removing his hat and casting steel-colored eyes humbly about, jeans pulled down over his boots’ piping.
The greatest difference between the men, though, isn’t physical.  It’s that Durwood speaks sparingly while Quaid can hog whole pages with the sound of his own voice.

Accordingly, most readers prefer Durwood.  We tend to favor action over words.  In a standoff, we’ll take Durwood’s swift roundhouse kick over Quaid’s rambling repartee with the villain every time.  There’s a reason Jack Reacher is currently King of the Thriller, and it’s not his silver tongue.

Durwood is well-liked, but if there’s one Third Chance character who’s even more beloved, it’s the quietest of them all: his bluetick coonhound, Sue-Ann. 

In the first two books of the series (Anarchy, Dear Durwood), Sue barks a grand total of once.  She gets her message across instead with droopy-eyed glances, characteristic yawns and plopping overs, and — in a pinch — bared gums.  There’s a scene near the end of Anarchy where Quaid is confronted by a past indiscretion and current crisis of conscience.  His partner Durwood and love interest Molly McGill both stare daggers at him, but Sue-Ann’s reaction is the one that moves him:
Her milky eyes found Quaid’s and held them.  With the cataracts, it was hard to say for sure, but he would’ve sworn he saw judgment there.  He would’ve sworn he saw contempt.
We can even back up to the meta level of the two books themselves, and the principle holds.  Anarchy, weighing in at a baggy 462 pages, sits at a 4.1 Amazon rating whereas Dear Durwood— a lean, mean 175 pages — has earned a 4.7.  Anarchy is chock-full of colorful secondary characters and outlandish settings, vignettes that establish the novel’s chaotic mood, large breaks in time.  As the author, I love the story and all its eccentricities, but I understand it’s a bit much for certain readers.  Dear Durwood, by contrast, takes place mostly across two days, a tight point-A-to-point-B mystery.  (And may also benefit from the absence of the loquacious Rafferty.)

Here’s a characteristic snippet from chapter one.  Durwood has just retrieved a stack of letters from petitioners across the country, asking him to rectify their injustices.
Crole nodded to the bulge in his pocket—the letters. “Anything interesting?”

“Sure,” Durwood said. “Plenty.”

They fished into twilight. Durwood caught just five bluegills. Crole, twenty years his senior and luckier with fish, reeled in a dozen, plus a decent-size channel cat despite using the wrong bait. The men strung their catches on a chain. The chain rippled in the cool, clear water.
The reader is left to figure out for herself what these taciturn characters think about the injustice letters.  Does Durwood feel disdain for all these complaints, judge them to be a byproduct of our idle modern times?  Do they humble him, the weight of people’s problems a never-ending drumbeat of sorrow?  Is Crole sore that Durwood isn’t dishing about the letters — or was his question merely a nicety they exchange every month, a sort of mountain-man fist bump?

See — I just explained Durwood and Crole’s 64 words with 78 of my own, and I’ll bet you like the passage a whole lot less now, don’t you?

It’s not completely obvious to me what drives this, whether people have always preferred less or if something changed or is changing in the culture.  We’re all pressed for time, surely.  I do think words and especially arguments are devalued in today’s society.  I don’t know how much attention the English pay to long-winded debate from the House of Commons, but here in the States, nobody’s tuning in to C-SPAN to hear Congress debate or waiting to hear from Trump or Biden before forming their opinion.  Whatever the issue is, we’ve heard about it already — don’t waste our time.

Ultimately, I believe one mode needs the other to succeed.  Durwood needs Quaid’s overstuffed monologues to seem the strong and silent Clint Eastwood type.  Catcher in the Rye needs big ponderous titles like Proust’s or Infinite Jest to feel abrupt and paradigm-shaking.

I can tell readers with 100 percent certainty that the next two Third Chance books — Molly’s The Begonia Killer and Quaid’s Astroplane — will join Dear Durwood on the shorter end of the spectrum.  After that, the options I’m considering for book five are either another sprawling adventure starring all three heroes, or an even shorter tale featuring Sue-Ann.

Which would you rather read?

For more on Anarchy, Durwood and other Third Chance novels — including real-time Twitter adventures and reader-submitted missions — visit the official series website.

Dear Durwood
Available NOW for ONLY 0.99!

purchase from purchase from purchase from Barnes & Noble find on Goodreads


CMash said...

I have been seeing great things about this series and hope to read it in the near future.

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