The Characters

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Although Elmore Leonard has always been a category-fiction writer, his sophisticated technique and attention to characterization have won him acclaim from literary critics. He has devoted much time and attention to studying the kinds of people he writes about. He has frequently been praised for his gift for writing dialogue, and has been compared with such masters of the American vernacular as Hammett and Ernest Hemingway. In Glitz, Leonard not only captures the essence of American cop and gangster language but also delights in showcasing the Puerto Rican English of Iris Ruiz as well as the subtleties of African American English in the street-smart, soft-spoken, potentially lethal DeLeon Johnson. Good dialogue not only conveys information to the reader and advances the plot but also characterizes the speaker. Leonard’s ear for dialogue has helped make him rich and famous.

Leonard is far more interested in character than in plot. His method of writing is to invent a cast of characters and then let them work out the story among themselves. He takes pains to invent a whole cast of contrasting types—male and female, young and old, good and bad, intelligent and stupid, rich and poor, black and white, foreign and native. Each character becomes more vivid by contrast with a different type.

Leonard had a devastating drinking problem and finally solved it by joining Alcoholics Anonymous. In describing his recovery, he said, “The key is...

(The entire section is 473 words.)


(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Vincent Mora of the Miami Beach police force, on medical leave after having been shot during a mugging, is honest and open, the...

(The entire section is 312 words.)