Why Ann Beattie was not put on this earth to review Elmore Leonard

From the NY Times Book Review, 2/1/04, p. 6

“If we can flirt and posture, laugh ironically about ghastly things and accept any discordant detail about how people look and what they seem to say, as opposed to what they are and what they really mean, we’re cheerleaders. . . for a corruption in our society whose taproot is anchored in the soil of a maliase that can become murderous.”

Almost makes me pine for one of lissener’s analyses of the Verhoven canon.

Your first crime novel, is it, Ann dear?

Moody ignores blank stares and lonely chirp of crickets, soldiers on with rant

It just makes me shake my head whenever an academic has to justify diggin’ Dutch by expounding on how “signifigant” he is. The reason he’s one of the most talented popular writers in the world is simple- he is without peer in the realm of characterization. The people in his books come to life so vividly that we’re enrapt with even the most mundane occurences in their lives. (His dialogue, of course, is also great, but I don’t think it’s what distinguishes him from other similarly gifted writers. George Higgins and David Mamet, for instance, write dialogue that’s closer to actual speech.)

Ann Beattie’s was just the worst kind of review- one where the reviewer seems more concerned with showing his or her understanding of the culture at large than with giving readers an idea of whether said book is worth their time.

Shit I haven’t read George V Higgins for years. I think he writes better dialogue than Leonard. But Leonard’s books pivot on the internal happenings with the characters, which is why so many end up as crap on the screen. You can read the novel in not much more time than it takes to watch the movie but you understand what is going on. When they are made into movies half of the story makes no sense.

And having ascribed to Leonard a reason for his characters’ mores, I now need further evidence that it leads to murderous behaviour. Fascinating theory if she’s right - it’s all Elmore’s fault.

Geez, but he was great. I just read Cogan’s Trade again recently, and the writing is so fresh and brutal you’d think it was written in 2003.

Y’know, I’ve never read Elmore Leonard, and now I’d really like to. Also, I hurt my eyes rolling them after reading that quote from Ann Beattie.

The comparison to Mamet is particularly apt, because Mamet’s skill in writing realistic dialogue is offset by his inconsistency in creating believable characters to deliver the dialogue. Half of Mamet’s work features poorly drawn characters flying though plots of such illogical and absurd complexity (How many double crosses were there in “Heist,” anyway? Fifty jillion?) that the realism of the dialogue fails to engage the reader. It’s like you’re listening to realistic dialogue repeated by robots.

Leonard, however, creates characters that JUMP off the page, more so than any contemporary writer I can think of. The only other current-day author I can think of as good at creating real character is, of all people, Stephen King. Or at least he used to be; his later efforts keep dredging up the same archetypes and it gets pretty damn dull.

And don’t ask, how are Elmore Leonard-based movies crap on the screen? “Out of Sight” wasn’t bad, and was blessed by one of the best movie posters of the last thirty years, “Get Shorty” was terrific, and “Jackie Brown” (Rum Punch) was good. “52 Pick-Up” wasn’t too shabby, either, although like a lot of 80’s movies it’s very dated. I’ll grant some have been terrible, like the first “The Big Bounce” (and apparently the new one blows goats, too) but the percentage of Leonard-based movies that come out all right strikes me as being a bit higher than the usual percentage of movies that come out all right.

In my mind’s eye I can see Dutch Leonard reading that review, saying “I have absolutely no idea what it is she’s trying to say,” and turning the page with nary a second thought.

I love going to the movies. Part of my love of movies is new movie posters. I love, love movie posters. Some suck, but some are great.

Here are some of my favourite movie posters ever:

Seabiscuit - the latest entry in Rick’s Favourite Movie Posters. A beautiful, simple picture. I adore the horse being offset and almost out of the frame; the impression it gives me it “This horse is so fast the photographer couldn’t quite catch up to him.”

Out of Sight - gorgeous, retro poster, again quite simple. The graphics match the throwback text and both perfectly complement Elmore Leonard’s style.

the Matrix Reloaded Smith Poster - all the Matrix Reloaded posters were terrific (the movie wasn’t) but IMHO, this was the best.

Raiders of the Lost Ark retro poster - God, what a fabulous poster. Perfectly sums up the movie and what it’s a tribute to. The sharp “RAIDERS” script is fantastic.

Chinatown - Maybe the best ever.

Any other candidates? Please post links.

I feel robbed! We’ve had a completely different poster for the seabiscuit. This one kicks some serious a$$.

I agree with Chinatown, a classic.
I loved the Bladerunner posters donw by Chris Achilleos, but they weren’t eventually used as the main ones. Here’s one http://www.allposters.com/gallery.asp?aid=562584&item=153158

It’s a shame hand-graphics are no longer as widely used.