Letting It Ride with Jay Cronley

I have always loved the movie Let It Ride, which stars Richard Dreyfuss and an ensemble cast. It tells the story of a gambler who invariably loses, until his lucky day when everything changes in a big way.

Gambling in storytelling has always interested me, as it is an activity that is difficult to make interesting. P.G. Wodehouse had a way of turning it all into a caper that avoided the nastier realities of the activity. Let It Ride is amazing in my opinion because every element of story that is introduced gets utilized (and there are lots of them). It is incredibly tight and even secondary characters have clearly defined arcs.

It has definitely acquired a cult film status and the apostolic followers that entails. Given how zealous such followers can be, I would confidently put myself in the top thirty per cent of Let It Ride fans in terms of fanaticism. I am such a big fan that I did not balk at ordering an expensive second hand copy of Jay Cronley’s out-of-print Good Vibes, the novel on which the movie is based.

Excited by its arrival, I mislaid it almost immediately and then promptly moved into a new apartment. I feared that it would never surface again, but fortunately I ran into it while unpacking a box three months after moving in. (It tends to take me that long to get through all my unpacking.) I picked up the novel and loved it.

Good Vibes is a wonderful read and I finished it in two sittings. I am not a fast reader, so this was unusual for me. It was fantastic to enjoy a style so different to my literary God, Mr Wodehouse. Cronley’s style was spare, simple, direct and compelling, from start to finish. Something I have not seen utilized often was regular use of block capitals outside of dialogue. I must confess that this was somewhat strange to me and I would need to reread Good Vibes, or Cronley’s other novels, to see how it worked over time.

I would highly recommend the movie and novel to anyone looking for a hearty laugh. On a sad note, Jay Cronley passed away earlier this year, but he leaves a body of work that has formed the basis for a number of wonderful film adaptations of stories that never cease to amuse me. Thank you, Jay Cronley.

Be well.