Tag: Jackie Brown

Get Shorty by Elmore Leonard

Posted August 8, 2015 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Pulp / 0 Comments

Get Shorty by Elmore LeonardTitle: Get Shorty (Goodreads)
Author: Elmore Leonard
Series: Chili Palmer #1
Published: William Morrow, 1990
Pages: 304
Genres: Pulp
My Copy: Library Book

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Chili Palmer is a shylock with mob connections working in Miami. However he is sick of the grind and it seems that his friends in the industry have a bad habit of dying. While chasing a deadbeat across America, he eventually ends up in Hollywood, where he decides to stay and start a new life. Besides, he has a killer idea for a movie and this is the town where dreams can come true…or do they?

It is no secret that Elmore Leonard has a bitter opinion towards Hollywood and Get Shorty allowed him to vent his feelings. In 1984 Leonard won an Edger Award (Best Novel) for his novel LaBrava and during the hype, Cannon Films brought the rights for a film adaptation. Dustin Hoffman had signed on to play former Secret Service agent Joe LaBrava in what was dubbed “the richest star deal in entertainment history”.  Elmore Leonard had to do multiple rewrites (all unpaid) at the request of the star only to have Hoffman terminate his contract citing ‘contract desputes’. The reason behind Hoffman’s departure from the project was due to some advertising; Cannon Films two full page ads in some trade papers which showed him pictured under the heading “Welcome to the Cannon Family Dustin Hoffman”. His contract granted him final approval to all advertising for the upcoming movie.

When reading Get Shorty you get a real sense of Elmore Leonard’s bitterness towards Hollywood and the failed movie. According to IMdb Dustin Hoffman is 5’5” and his depiction in the novel is the over compensating Michael Weir (who was portrayed by Danny DeVito in the film adaptation). Despite what Leonard may have thought about the movie industry, Get Shorty turned into one of the great satires depicting Hollywood. The film adaptation was the next of his novels to make the transition to the screen, this time with only minor changes to the main plot. This lead the way to a range of great Elmore Leonard adaptations, from Jackie Brown, Out of Sight, Be Cool, 3:10 to Yuma and the TV show Justified.

Get Shorty is probably one of the best modern crime novels I have read in a long time. I tend to find that modern authors in the genre do not explore social issues within their books. Elmore Leonard was one of the best crime novelists and it was sad to lose him back in 2013. I plan to read the next book in the Chili Palmer series, Be Cool and I think I should rewatch the movies sometime soon as well.

The Hot Kid by Elmore Leonard

Posted September 12, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Crime / 0 Comments

The Hot Kid by Elmore LeonardTitle: The Hot Kid (Goodreads)
Author: Elmore Leonard
Series: Carl Webster #1
Published: Harper Collins, 2005
Pages: 320
Genres: Crime
My Copy: Library Book

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Carl Webster was fifteen when he witnessed his first murder. Now he is the hot kid in the Marshall services; polite, respectful and can shoot a man driving away from 400 yards. He is on his way to being the most famous lawman of the 1930s. Jack Belmont wants to rob banks, become the most notorious outlaw and show his millionaire father he can live his own life. In the time of the Volstead Act comes The Hot Kid, a fast paced crime novel from a master of his craft; Elmore Leonard.

I love the Volstead Act; without it there may never have been organised crime in America and that makes for some interesting reading. Of course, love is the wrong word to describe the Volstead Act but I do have a huge interest in the era. For those who don’t know about the Volstead Act, it was the National Prohibition Act that became the Eighteenth Amendment, which established prohibition in the United States in 1919. This led to a surge in bootlegging and organised crime and made for some great stories for me to enjoy, from Boardwalk Empire (wonder if there are books that are like this show) to The Hot Kid.

I was saddened to hear about the recent loss of Elmore Leonard; though I hadn’t read anything by this crime master it really affected me. The very next day I reserved The Hot Kid from the library. I didn’t know where to start with this legend; he has written so many novels and they all looked good but a book set in the 1930s was right up my alley. Researching Elmore Leonard I realised that he was more successful that I thought. If you measure a writer’s success in adaptations (which I really don’t want to do) then you can’t go past some of his best adaptions like Jackie Brown, 3:10 to Yuma, Get Shorty, Killshot, Out of Sight and the TV show Justified.

The Hot Kid was a fast paced crime novel that I ended up reading in two sittings which is a big surprise because I feel like I’m a slow reader. I really enjoyed the way Leonard writes; it was so well plotted that he makes writing look so easy which I’m sure is very difficult to do. He is a prolific author with novels set in western times all the way up to the modern era. But I enjoy a time when organised crime reigns and tend to enjoy crime novels set there.

The only major issue I had with this book was that it never really felt like it was set in the time of speakeasies, tommy guns and organised crime. Every now and then I get a reference to the Volstead or a Thompson that pulls me back into the correct era. For the majority of the book I felt like Carl Webster was far too similar to Raylan Givens (from the TV show Justified) and that threw me off a little but didn’t really effect the overall enjoyment of the book.

Maybe this wasn’t the best place to start when exploring Elmore Leonard’s craft but I have no regrets. I will read the next book in the Carl Webster series but I think I might like to try something else by this crime master first. The problem I often face is the fact that I want to continue with an author but have so many other books I want to read and more often than not I never return to a writer I enjoy. But I’ve only been reading for a short time and I’m sure Elmore Leonard and the Carl Webster series will be read sometime in the near future.