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Critical Essays on Elmore Leonard: If It Sounds Like Writing

Critical Essays on Elmore Leonard: If It Sounds Like Writing

A scholarly exploration of Elmore Leonard―provides original essays and fresh insights on the author’s works and influence.

Labelled as "the closest thing America has to a national novelist," Elmore Leonard's clean and direct writing, engaging bad guys, and deadpan humor resonate with readers around the nation and throughout the world. Popular films based on his books continue to introduce new audiences to Leonard's unique way of engaging with complex themes of American culture and pop-culture history. Yet surprisingly, academic treatments of his writing are almost nonexistent. Critical Essays on Elmore Leonard is an original anthology that covers the topics, themes, literary and narrative style, and enduring influences of one of the finest crime writers in the history of the genre.

This unique collection of essays explores the ways in which Leonard’s work reflects America's dynamic, ever-changing culture. Divided into two parts, the book first examines major themes and topics in Leonard's works, followed by detailed case studies of five individual works including Get Shorty and Out of Sight. Essays discuss topics such as Leonard's skill at conveying sense of place, his use of dress and appearance in his crime fiction, the influence of romantic comedies and westerns on his writing, and the concepts of moral luck, determinism, and existentialism found in his novels. Unique and thoroughly original, this book:

  • Covers Leonard's entire career, including his early Western novels and his work in visual media.
  • Illustrates Leonard's genius at handling free indirect discourse.
  • Discusses the author's influence, legacy, and contemporary relevance in various contexts.
  • Explores Leonard's success at making himself "invisible" in his own writing.
  • Includes an insightful introduction from the book's editor.

Critical Essays on Elmore Leonard is an ideal resource for academics and students in the field of genre studies, especially crime fiction, and general readers with interest in the subject.


Part I: Topics and Themes

Chapter 1. Nostalgia and Authenticity in Elmore Leonard's Conflicted Heroes

Chapter 2. Elmore Leonard and the Romantic Comedy, or “Get Some Love into It”

Chapter 3. The Sense of Place in Elmore Leonard's Crime Fiction

Chapter 4. Visual Clues: Dress, Appearance, and Perception in Elmore Leonard's Crime Fiction

Chapter 5. The Mozart of the Motor City: Elmore Leonard and Noir Buffa

Part II: Five Case Studies

Chapter 6. The Man with Five Names: Hombre on Race and the Cinematic Western

Chapter 7. Pitching Cinematic Identification in Get Shorty

Chapter 8. “It's the way they're done”: Style and Legerdemain in Out of Sight

Chapter 9. Moral Luck and Determinism in Rum Punch

Chapter 10. Disjointed Djibouti: Elmore Leonard's Final Metafiction

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