RARA-AVIS: Re: Elmore Leonard

From: Kevin Burton Smith ( kvnsmith@colba.net)
Date: 09 Mar 2000

>By the way, regarding the discussion about where to start with Leonard: CITY
>PRIMEVAL, it seems to me, is the first one to read, the most compelling one to
>read (a real classic, if for no other reason than the skilful blending of the
>two genres, hard-boiled and Western). Then add STICK, SPLIT IMAGES, LABRAVA,
>CAT CHASER, and GLITZ. That probably is the "essential" list, although you're
>missing something by not going back to pick up SWAG, THE GOLD COAST, THE BIG
>BOUNCE, and THE MOONSHINE WAR. And you're also missing a lot of fun by not
>picking up some of the later books, GET SHORTY probably chief among them.

Anyone who's a fan of bleak, hard-boiled, often morally-ambiguous crime fiction owes it to themselves to check out Leonard's westerns. These aren't your stuffed-shirt John Wayne/Randolph Scott oaters here, not by a long shot. The only difference between Leonard's westerns and his more contemporary crime stuff is a matter of setting, not attitude. HOMBRE or the TONTO WOMAN collection are both recommended. The stories I've read in the latter compare very favorably with "The Man Who Killed Dan Odams" in Hammett's NIGHTMARE TOWN.

In fact, many of his westerns could easily be made into contemporary crime dramas just by judicious use of Search and Replace. Imagine Hombre taking place on a Greyhound bus, that sorta thing....

Coincidentally, Tarantino's next Leonard adaptation will be a western...

Kevin Burton Smith The Thrilling Detective Web Site http://www.colba.net/~kvnsmith/thrillingdetective/ This month: The P.I. Poll on Short Fiction, plus new stuff from Hugh Lessig, Peter Parmantie and Dave White.

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