Elmore Leonard’s ‘Road Dogs’ is out this week

Steady readers of this blog know I’m a nut for western-turned-crime writer Elmore Leonard. If you visit my LibraryThing profile, you’ll see that I own more Elmore Leonard books than I do any other author. This isn’t saying much because it’s easy to have a whole shelf full of his writings, considering the man has written forty-three novels in his eighty-four years (not counting his short stories, essays, and fun and practical craft guide, 10 Rules of Writing). Still, I’m excited to add my 23rd Elmore Leonard novel to my shelf: Road Dogs.

Road Dogs was released on Tuesday and my copy arrives in the mail today. I can’t wait to crack it open after finals week calms down. I wrote part of my MFA comprehensive exam on my favorite Leonard novel, Out of Sight, and Road Dogs continues the adventures of Out of Sight‘s lead character, Jack Foley. The story was compelling and Foley as a character is so fun to read. He’s a bank robber, sure, but he’s one of the coolest, most suave men you’ll ever meet. The plot of Road Dogs, with Foley falling for the wife of a friend he made in prison, has the sort of criminals-in-a-love triangle story that feels familiar on the surface (Revenge starring Anthony Quinn and a young Kevin Costner springs to mind, as does the Jeff Bridges-starring Against All Odds, which is itself a remake of the Robert Mitchum film noir vehicle, Out of the Past). Still, if there’s one thing I’ve learned to expect from Leonard’s writing it’s that relationships like a love triangle are never that simple, implying that if one thinks a love triangle is complicated to begin with, they haven’t seen anything until Leonard gets his hands on such a relationship.

I take that back. Really, if there’s one thing I’ve learned to expect from Leonard’s writing it’s character is at the heart of story. His dialogue is real and feeds the story’s tone at all times, bouncing back and forth between tense drama and raucous comedy. His characters are memorable and unique and their relationships build through interactions woven so tightly one scarcely believe Leonard rarely (if ever) plots his novels. When writing, he’s daring: he likes creating characters and see how they interact. Lucky for us, we as readers get to join him on this ride of story surprise.

The film adaptation of Out of Sight came out in 1998 and had great talent behind the camera: it was directed by Steven Soderbergh (Traffic, Ocean’s Eleven) and written by superb screen scribe Scott Frank (Little Man Tate, Minority Report, and who also adapted Leonard’s Get Shorty for Barry Sonnenfeld). Starring George Clooney as Jack Foley and Jennifer Lopez in her acting prime, the film version is excellent and there’s a part of me that hopes Road Dogs lends itself to film adaptation, too. Of course, the combination of Soderbergh / Clooney / Frank definitely did their part in making the film version of Out of Sight a success, and their reunion would definitely make for yet another interesting film project.

I’ll update you with a review as soon as possible. I may choose to re-read Out of Sight before I dive into Road Dogs so I don’t have a timeline for you, but you can trust you’ll read all about it.

-nm

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