LaBrava by Elmore Leonard

Elmore Leonard's novels and screenplays are best known for their gritty realism.

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LaBrava by Elmore Leonard


Features

  • Mass Market Paperback: 432 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.17 x 6.92 x 4.26
  • Publisher: HarperTorch; (January 28, 2003)
  • ISBN: 0060512237


    Reader Reviews
    8 of 10 people found the following review helpful: Bravo to La Brava - Dutch's best., December 17, 2000 Reviewer: Chris Jarmick from Seattle, WA USA I haven't liked all of Elmore Leonard's novels, but I've enjoyed a lot of them. La Brava is Dutch's (his nickname) best. I first read La Brava when I was in a catch-up and read all of Dutch's books about five or six years ago. I went on this Leonard reading frenzy after a friend of mine told me something I was writing reminded him of second rate Elmore. I wound agreeing with my friend and tossing that project aside. Leonard isn't known for writing overly complex or gimmicky novels. His narratives are short and to the point. He avoids fancy prose and concentrates on his shady characters and shows us who they are by what they do and how they talk. The characters are why anyone who likes Leonard, reads Leonard. Leonard generally chooses characters that few would make 'heroes' of in their novels. Sleazy characters, low-lifes, good for nothings, three time losers, cheaters, petty criminals, blackmailers, alcoholics, hustlers, drifters and killers are front and center of most of Leonard's novels. He doesn't show them going through a make-over or redemption (usually). He gets inside these people's heads and concocts scenarios for them to act within. Sometimes the scenarios are pretty outrageous, sometimes they are pretty straightforward. You usually dislike most if not all of the central characters in a Leonard novel. You grow to understand them, perhaps pity them, but you usually don't wind up liking them very much. What's amazing, is how Leonard usually makes you care about them. In most of his novels, he really presents believable and authentic characters. These characters walk the walk and talk like they really talk. They say and do dumb things. They usually aren't too bright and when they think they are-they usually do something really stupid. Sometimes the characters have some like-able traits or attempt to conform to some strange code of ethics or morals that is rationalized internally to almost make sense (for the character). A lot of his novels don't have incredible or over-the top memorable endings. His novels are closer to slices of life, than genre fiction tends to be. There might be some twists and turns in the story, but they are not set up by Leonard to be big surprises or create surprising revelations. This tends to divide audiences. A lot of people just don't understand why Leonard is well liked by critics as well as a huge following of fans. I hope lot of people who have decided not to like Leonard will read La Brava. It's his best. His books aren't long, and they are generally pretty fast reads, full of lots of dialogue. Snappy, realistic dialogue that sometimes is very clever... but not clever at the expense of betraying the characters. For those that read several Leonard's in a row, you'll discover that sometimes characters from a previous book will make a cameo appearance in another book. The cameo appearance is a fun thing to spot and never is done as a gimmick but because it works perfectly and makes good sense. You would never realize the characters' baggage or background from the cameo appearance, but if you recognize the character from a previous (or future) novel, knowing more about the character adds an incredible depth and richness to the story. It's a wonderful inside treat for Leonard fans, and one that non-fans need not anything about. A customer at a bar might be an expert at spotting counterfeit bills. You don't need to know the customer was in another novel as a counterfeiter and what happened to him, but if you do, it makes the inclusion of the customer a special treat. La Brava in some ways was a bit of a departure for Leonard. His protagonist Joe LaBrava is not only fairly likeable, but is also working at a legitimate profession. Joe LaBrava is an independent photographer who has started his life over again in South Miami Beach. He likes his life and likes where he is. Most Leonard characters are full of conflicts and often involved in illegal activities. Joe LaBrava has a past, but it's as an ex-Secret Service agent-not as a bad guy or mob informant. LaBrava is damaged goods, to be sure, but he's someone most readers will like and root for. He lives in a hotel that's owned by an elderly friend name Maurice. LaBrava meets a former movie glamour queen Jean Shaw. LaBrava had a crush on Jean Shaw when her first saw her at the movies as a teenager. That was then, now Shaw is an alcoholic and is being drawn into an extortion scheme which will soon involve Maurice and LaBrava. The local characters we meet are colorful, realistic and always compelling. There's a red neck former cop, who may or may not be a very dangerous character, a Cuban refugee go-go dancer who has killed to stay alive and many more. As the mechanics of the scheme slowly unfold, the characters drive the plot to a very logical and somewhat expected conclusion. Along the way were are treated to some of Leonard's sharpest and best dialogue and character ruminations he's ever written. Although some of this may sound like it border on the cliche, in Leonard's hands nothing could be further from the truth. The novel was originally published in 1983, and like a lot of Leonard novels it was going to be the basis of a movie which was never made. A lot of his books have become movies, some he's written or contributed to the screenplays of and a lot of them he has not. One of his books Fifty-Two Pick Up (good book) has been the basis for two movies. One was called The Ambassador (with Robert Mitchum and Rock Hudson) and is not very faithful to the novel (and not a very good movie), and the other is Fifty-Two Pickup with Roy Scheider and Ann Margaret which is closer to the book, but still not a complete success. Leonard began his career in fiction by writing Western short stories for pulp magazines in the 1950's. He graduated to writing western novels like The Bounty Hunters, Escape from Five Shadows and then Hombre, and Valdez is Coming. Then he began writing novels like The Big Bounce, Mr. Majestyk, Unknown Man No 89 and City Primeval: High Noon in Detroit. Lately he's been receiving even more attention than in the past because finally Hollywood turned a couple of his books into good movies. Get Shorty, Out of Sight, and Jackie Brown. Out of Sight in fact is a much better movie, then it is a novel. He's up to about 36 novels now and more than half of them are certainly worth reading. Among his worst are: Killshot and Riding the Rap. Among his best are : Freaky Deaky, Fifty-Two Pickup, Rum Punch(which was the basis for the film Jackie Brown), City Primeval, and my favorite: La Brava. Christopher J. Jarmick - Author (The Glass Cocoon with Serena F. Holder Available as a pre-order now !!!) --This text refers to the Paperback edition

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