Few people are as versed in Elmore Leonard’s world as Charles Rzepka.
Being Cool: The Work of Elmore Leonardby Charles J. Rzepka
Widely known as the crime fiction writer whose work led to the movies Get Shorty and Out of Sight, Elmore Leonard had a special knack for creating "cool" characters. In Being Cool, Charles J. Rzepka looks at what makes the dope-dealers, bookies, grifters, financial advisors, talent agents, shady attorneys, hookers, models, and crooked cops of/i>/i>/i>
Widely known as the crime fiction writer whose work led to the movies Get Shorty and Out of Sight, Elmore Leonard had a special knack for creating "cool" characters. In Being Cool, Charles J. Rzepka looks at what makes the dope-dealers, bookies, grifters, financial advisors, talent agents, shady attorneys, hookers, models, and crooked cops of Leonard's world cool. They may be nefarious, but they are also confident, skilled, and composed and cope without effort or thought. And they are good at what they do. Taking being cool as the highway through Leonard's life and works, Rzepka finds plenty of byways to explore along the way.
Rzepka delineates the stages and patterns that characterize Leonard’s creative evolution. Like jazz greats, he forged an individual writing style immediately recognizable for its voice and rhythm, including his characters' rat-a-tat recitations, curt backhands, and ragged trains of thought. Rzepka draws on more than twelve hours of personal interviews with Leonard and applies what he learned to his close analysis of the writer’s long life and prodigious output: 45 published novels, 39 published and unpublished short stories, and numerous essays written over the course of six decades.
When "the Dickens of Detroit," American novelist and screenwriter Elmore Leonard (1925–2013), died this summer, he was eulogized as a national treasure. The beloved author of more than 40 novels that form the backbone of American crime writing over half a century (Get Shorty; Rum Punch; Tishomingo Blues) deserves to be taken seriously by the academy, argues Rzepka (English, Boston Univ.; Inventions and Interventions). More pointed than earlier biography and analysis of the author's work from Paul Challen, James E. Devlin, and David Geherin, Rzepka's work sets about defining "cool" through Leonard's many quirky, engaging characters, revealing a great deal more about the writer. Drawn from a dozen hours of conversation with Leonard and years of attention to his writings, the book includes a photo insert as well as a comprehensive bibliography and a useful sampling of secondary sources. VERDICT Rzepka's close reading of Leonard's fiction is an insightful, thorough, and timely addition to scholarship on the author. Although the analysis here has a distinct academic bent, Rzepka's prose and arguments are accessible, with an eye toward attracting lay readers interested in a deeper understanding of Leonard's fiction.—Patrick A. Smith, Bainbridge Coll., GA
- Johns Hopkins University Press
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- 6.30(w) x 8.80(h) x 1.00(d)
What People are Saying About This
Rzepka uncovers interesting patterns that link the individual works and identifies connections between incidents in Leonard's life and his fiction. This is an important work on an important writer.
Meet the Author
Charles J. Rzepka is a professor of English at Boston University and author of Inventions and Interventions: Selected Studies in Romantic and American Literature, History, and Culture; Detective Fiction; Sacramental Commodities: Gift, Text, and the Sublime in De Quincey; and The Self as Mind: Vision and Identity in Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Keats.
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