Elmore Leonard – Mr Paradise

Even at the age of eighty, Elmore Leonard is still turning out a book or so a year. I, for one, am really glad. Maybe now there is something all to familiar about his style, but to be honest that’s half the fun. Despite the crime genre, his books are never really all that dark. This is not to suggest that this is just fluff, there is something deeply true about the human(e) experience in his books. It’s kinda like if Vonnegut had decided to write thrillers. Maybe it’s his dialogue (both internal and external, if truth be told) giving his characters more of a dimension of existence outside the plot. Something that, it should be remembered, Tarantino has not just been influenced by but has completely and utterly stolen. There are entire swathes of dialogue in True Romance lifted wholesale (James Gandolfini‘s “just to see the look on their face” is from Killshot – which QT later snapped up the rights for to avoid any unpleasantness). Of course, as with popular music, this is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, QT’s Jackie Brown is possibly the best adaptation of any of Leonard’s works. (I’m not counting Get Shorty as it’s not a typical Leonard novel – and also coz that’d ruin my argument.) There’s a certain near existential melancholy to it that really catches the man’s work.

And, so to his nty nth novel. And, it’s the usual suspects. Someone kills someone for something. Someone else comes along and gets involved with someone not really that much to do with it all. Some folk end up dead.

To be honest, after the Brill book, this was near purifying. Instead of trawling through it for months it was a one sitting effort (even if I was in transit and sitting in different places). Although, this could be down to the fact that it’s almost a large print book. Definitely stretches a 150 page book to 250. And, to be honest, you’ve got to ask yourself who typeset it. Do these people take absolutely no pride in their craft anymore? I know that these days of Ms Rowling quantity not quality seems to be the watchword, but no-one complains about The Old Man & The Sea barely breaking the ton.

Is it classic Leonard? I dunno. I’ll bet you that my idea of what is doesn’t come anywhere near what yours would be. However, it’s damned enjoyable. the old man still got it.


Written by Tony Kiernan

21 September 2005 at 12:26 pm

Posted in Books

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