a life of cheerful simplicity
This month I have read:
* Stick, Elmore Leonard
* Up in Honey’s Room, Elmore Leonard
* The Hot Kid, Elmore Leonard
* Tishomingo Blues, Elmore Leonard
* How to Talk So Kids Will Listen…, Adel Faber and Elaine Mazlish
A bit of a theme emerges here, in that I’ve been on a bit of an Elmore Leonard jag this month. I read Stick years ago, and I’ve always been fond of Mr Stickley — that scene where, having been given Cecil’s job, he has to take care of the irate and drunken now ex-driver with a glass of ‘petrol’ and a cigarette lighter. And the hilarious repeated motif of him mashing Eddie Moke’s cowboy hat (a Crested Beaut). And Chucky Buck is an awful, dark, comic creation. Brilliant and much better than some of Leonard’s later work, which can occasionally be a little tired, even formulaic.
Up in Honey’s Room is a completely different sort of Leonard book, a tough crime caper set in Detroit…in the 1940s. Bottled blonde beauty, Honey (think Charlize Theron in The Cider House Rules) marries weedy Himmler-wannabe/lookalike. POWs are on the run; an evil gay/bisexual Ukrainian psycho is on the loose, and the local sheriff and ‘Hot Kid’ marshall from Oklahoma have to track them down. Quite a sexy book, for Leonard, with Honey spending a fair amount of time with her “ninnies” (huh?) out.
The Hot Kid is the first book starring the eponymous marshall, a romp through the dustbowl with Pretty Boy Floyd and Dillinger hopefuls and a thoroughly unpleasant villain. Good, but Honey’s Room is better, in my view.
Tishomingo Blues is a modern story, but where the past is immediately present given the Deep South, Civil War re-enactment theme. The hero, a showman high-diver, is looking for a steadier gig. He finds one but witnesses a murder committed by the Redneck Mafia, and his witnessing is in turn witnessed by them. He falls in with a black, educated drug dealer, down south from Detroit (where else) to see if he can set up a few new branches of his Drugs R Us franchise. Mayhem follows but the rednecks are routed, and our hero finally gets the girl and moves to Florida (where else).
The last book is a self-help book. I normally hate these, but this one really is very very helpful. if you have kids, I promise that you will benefit from this. Good for adults, too.