Four Novels of the 1970s: Fifty-Two Pickup, Swag, Unknown Man No. 89 and The Switch by Elmore Leonard, 1/5
I made it most of the way through the first novel in this collection and, while I admired the film-noir mood and punchy dialogue, eventually gave up because it was just too R-rated for me. Given that I enjoy watching a lot of R-rated movies, this might seem strange, but there’s just something about books–I get a bad feeling from reading things in print that wouldn’t phase me to watch on film.
I suspect that Fifty-Two Pickup might be one of Leonard’s roughest books and I might have had better luck with some of his more comedic works, but I just don’t feel motivated to give them a try at this point.
Why I read it: Got a batch of Elmore Leonard books out of the library to read, starting with his 10 Rules of Writing.
Mr. Majestyk by Elmore Leonard, 3/5
This is no literary masterpiece, but it’s got a likeable good guy, a hot girl, a selection of mean bad guys and plenty of gun play, so it seems petty to complain.
Why I read it: I needed a break from some of Leonard’s darker work and I enjoyed the Charles Bronson movie which served as inspiration for this short novel.
Fire in the Hole and Other Stories by Elmore Leonard, 4/5
I enjoyed Leonard’s punchy, no-nonsense writing style (distinctly American, somehow) and entertaining tales full of cool-as-ice characters, though much of it was more R-rated than I’m comfortable with.
Why I read it: I really liked the TV series Justified and wanted to check out the short story that inspired it.
Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing by Elmore Leonard, 4/5
It’s a bit backwards that a short essay about writing is my first introduction to this author, however Leonard’s fascinating goal to “remain invisible” in his writing and the many similarities between his philosophies and those of screenwriter William Goldman, make me very eager to read more by him.
Why I read it: I very much enjoyed the TV show Justified, which was based on some of Leonard’s short stories. The show’s dialogue was especially good, so I am curious how much of that is a reflection of the source material (judging from this essay, I’m guessing a lot). Also, in researching Leonard, I found that his novels have been the inspiration for many movies, such as Mr. Majestyk, 3:10 to Yuma and Jackie Brown, which makes him even more interesting.