CHARLIE MARTZ AND OTHER STORIES by Elmore Leonard

CHARLIE MARTZ AND OTHER STORIES

Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Fifteen mostly unpublished stories—Westerns, war stories, dispatches from Detroit—written in the 1950s.

Leonard’s son Peter notes in his brief introduction that Hemingway was the formative influence on his father’s prose, and you’ll find echoes of Papa everywhere here. The slight coming-of-age story “The Line Rider” and the will-he-or-won’t-he-stray anecdotes “Arma Virumque Cano” and “Evenings Away from Home” drag their unprepared heroes into Hemingway territory; “Charlie Martz” and “First Western Siesta in Paloverde” bring the sheriff of Doña Ana County up against two shooters hungry for revenge; “Short Stories for Men: The Bull Ring at Blisston” forces an ex-bullfighter to cap one last bull in Michigan; and the Anglos stopping in a Torremolinos hotel in “A Happy, Lighthearted People” could have stepped right out of “Homage to Switzerland.” More subtle echoes of Hemingway turn up in the twisted marital idyll of “The Italian Cut” and the moral dilemmas the heroes and heroines face in the Mexico of “Confession,” the Malaya of “Time of Terror,” and the Civil War of “Rebel on the Run.” But the most obvious influence is in the testosterone posturing that drives the avenging brother of “One, Horizontal” and the farmer invited to become a sales rep in “The Trespassers.” Like Hemingway, Leonard excels in dramatizing the point at which apparently friendly mano a mano joshing threatens to erupt in violence for the Hollywood extra in “The Only Good Syrian Foot Soldier Is a Dead One” and the rifle-toting ex-boyfriend of “For Something to Do,” perhaps the most characteristic of all these tales.

Not by any means apprentice work—Leonard’s first four novels appeared over the same period as these stories—but interesting mostly for the signs and promises of the author’s future laconic command of dialogue and action and his knowing, lazy, wryly amused trademark voice.

Pub Date: June 16th, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-06-236492-0
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2015




MORE BY ELMORE LEONARD

FictionRAYLAN by Elmore Leonard
by Elmore Leonard
FictionDJIBOUTI by Elmore Leonard
by Elmore Leonard

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

FictionENOUGH ROPE by Lawrence Block
by Lawrence Block
FictionAMERICAN WEST by Loren D. Estleman
by Loren D. Estleman
FictionLEARNING TO KILL by Ed McBain
by Ed McBain