Yesterday I objected to Terrence Rafferty's description of Elmore Leonard's writing style as "no gassy speeches, just behavior in all its unaccountable variety"; and I even did a tiny stylometric experiment to support my impression that his characters -- the heroes as well as the villains -- are in fact unusually talky....
It turns out that I could instead have simply made an argument ad auctoritatem. Andrew Brown from Helmintholog sent in a link to his post "St. Elmore's Fire" (10/8/2005), in which he quoted this passage from B.R. Myers' review of The Hot Kid in the November 2005 Atlantic ("The Prisoner of Cool"):
Though pioneered a century ago by the English dandy Ronald Firbank, and then popularized by a man whose first name was Evelyn, the technique of letting conversation carry a story is regarded in America as the tough guy’s way to write a novel, and Leonard makes no secret of his pride in it. Unfortunately, it compels him (as it did Firbank and Waugh) to stick to talkative characters. This excludes the true professionals on both sides of the law, leaving us with small-time cops and ex-cons who rarely keep quiet long enough to seem cool. They’re street-smart for sure, but although the recurring interjection “The fuck’m I doing here?” certainly puts Sartre in a nutshell, no one seems to think about anything, at least not anything interesting.
August 20, 2013
Says Language Log (on the occasion of Leonard's death). What was it about Leonard's writing that caught the linguist's attention? There are a bunch of links to old posts. I clicked on "Elmore's Adverbs":