Thursday, March 20, 2008

Elmore Leonard

You’re feeling at a loss, can’t pin down why, then it hits you: It’s been more than a year since you read any Elmore Leonard.

What happens next is, you’re on your second or third Elmore Leonard novel in a row, with a stack growing at your elbow, and no inclination to read anything written by anyone else ever again.

This go-round started with City Primeval: High Noon In Detroit (1980), which reads something like a landlocked version of Charles Willeford’s Miami Blues (1984). The book has two endings. The first made me laugh, and then made my skin crawl. The second ending is initially more pleasing; tidier...but just you wait a day or two, and it'll catch up to ya.

Next: Pronto (1993) is from the stretch of books (beginning with Get Shorty) that had lazy critics touting Leonard as a writer of comic novels. (Funny yes, comic no.) I’m near the end of this book now, and I think it works better than, say, Get Shorty or Maximum Bob, thanks to its great straight man U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens. Also: the very best joke in the book is a plot point that no one mentions. Not even the author. Now that’s funny.

Sitting at my elbow, God help me: Glitz (1985), Stick (1983 – Swag, wherein the character of Stick was introduced, is one of my favorites) and Valdez Is Coming (1970).

I hope that I’ll get caught up in March Madness, though, and save some Elmore Leonard for another time.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Traveled, Bought, Read

Just back from a week in San Francisco, a city I knew only through Hammett, Kerouac, and Vertigo.
If I was ten years younger I wouldn’t have come back.

The Prone Gunman, Jean-Patrick Manchette
Never Live Twice, Dan J. Marlowe
Kill The Boss Goodbye, Peter Rabe
Zero Cool, John Lange
Money Shot, Christa Faust
The Sisters,
The Amateur,
The October Circle, Robert Littell
The Tears of Autumn,
The Secret Lovers,
Second Sight,
The Last Supper,
Charles McCarry


Missionary Stew, Ross Thomas
Myself When I Am Real, Gene Santoro (Charles Mingus bio)


Back To The Badlands: Crime Writing In The USA, John Williams
Money Shot, Christa Faust