When the Women Come Out to Dance by Elmore Leonard
To my knowledge, I had never read Elmore Leonard previously. I’m familiar with movies based on his works, notably Get Shorty, Jackie Brown, and 3:10 to Yuma. There’s also The Big Bounce and Be Cool, both of which I haven’t cared for. It was the TV series Justified that lead me to this anthology. The book will be re-released in January as Fire in Hole, named after the short story of the same name that is the basis for the series. It was a search for Justified on Amazon that led me to the anthology and I picked it up from my library’s digital collection under its original name.
I’m pretty firmly in the love/hate category with Leonard. His characters are all very slick. The talk a certain way, act a certain way. Sometimes, I buy it. Sometimes, I don’t. His female characters sometimes feel like a cut-out noir femme fatale. At other times, as with the story “Karen Makes Out,” the female protagonist is tough, vulnerable, and admirably drawn. All in all, Leonard’s fiction dwells in a sort of heightened reality, one that’s sort of Hollywood. But the stories are also subtle. Not many end with a big bang. That’s one of the things I like about his writing. I’d like to read one of his novels in the near future, possibly one of his Westerns.
Getting back to the name of this blog, what follows are notes I took while I read:
Dialogue is definitely Leonard’s strong point. Still, occasionally, the voices of characters sound the same. And sometimes, I’m not sure I buy the slick way everyone talks.
All red heads have flawless pale skin. All women wear straight skirts, just above the knee.
“…still a size six approaching thirty…”
I do like how his characters reference movies and actors.
Really, really enjoyed “Karen Makes Out.”
There is something quite endearing about Leonard’s stories. They often end in a small way, not with a huge finale.
Drops a lot of “to be”s from his language. Is this a regional speech thing (in the speech of his characters), or an Elmore Leonard thing?
Of course, most of the women are a bit evil… Leading poor men astray.
On one hand, I like how Leonard’s characters have a multitude of thoughts going through their heads and he uses this internal narrative to present us with details, not just background. On the other hand, sometimes I doubt that anyone would be thinking of X when Y is happening immediately around them.