Decent Men In Trouble
Posted: 30 August 2009 09:08 AM   [ Ignore ]
Power User
Total Posts:  315
Joined  2005-08-29

This NYT review is terrific and at the time must have been a huge boost to Elmore, both personally and professionally. There’s only one flaw: The reviewer says, “[A]s in the two previous books, the plotting is remarkably ingenious,” and “Leonard bows to no one in plot construction.”

If the reviewer’d known then what we all know now—that Elmore doesn’t plot, that he creates characters, puts them in situations, let’s them talk, and goes wherever they take him—obviously the idea of masterful plotting, pre-planned action, would not have been included.

But the most interesting thing, and the irony, is that the “plots” that do emerge in his books are ingenious. So ingenious, in fact, that Elmore has the NYT assuming that only meticulous forethought and planning could have brought them into being.

A side note: just as Elmore’s prose gets from point A to point B with nothing extraneous in between, so his thinking as to how to create his prose works in the same way. In life, people meet, interact, speak to each other, and things happen to them. Elmore’s true genius lies in his understanding that believable fiction should come about in precisely the same way. And to hell with what the scholars, experts, critics, or other famous writers think.

Posted: 30 August 2009 11:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Senior Member
Total Posts:  97
Joined  2008-03-18

I don’t find Mr. L’s work all that profane. While he lets his characters and the situation express a profanity now and then, it really doesn’t reflect the reality of the Con’s language. I just spent three months in county jail and it was like being in 8th grade again, where using the F-bombs and other such drivel is one way to display masculinity. All it does is expose ignorance, limited vocabulary and exposition of critical thinking. Of course, the reader would get bogged down with sentences containing several F-words as adjectives, a verb or two and a noun. Mr. L does it just right, enough to reveal a character’s thinking process. And I’ll bet the reviewer heard that language in the newsroom as well. He seems to think certain classes are above such usage. I’ve often been shocked by the dropping of F-bombs - and bigotry - from men educated in some of those haughty fruity-tooty East Coast colleges. Women, too. Girls, really, in college.

I also have trouble with this: “He gets her out of trouble at the end, in a blaze of Leonardian pyrotechnical finesse.” I suppose there’s been some explosions in Mr. L’s books. Freaky Deaky of course, and the mentioned 52 Pick-up. The word has the connotation of showiness, a contradiction of his work. While Wiki’s definition makes reflects how Mr. L’s endings work - “

Pyrotechnics is the science of materials capable of undergoing self-contained and self-sustained exothermic chemical reactions for the production of heat, light, gas, smoke and/or sound

” - what reader understands the word that way? Really, to define “Leonardian” as ‘pyrotechnical finesse, don’t think so.

And what would Mr. L think of all those adjectives!?!

Thanks for these recent posts of reviews and interviews. Helps stave off jonesing while waiting for