Ideas for Group Discussions

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The police procedural is a popular crime fiction sub-genre, among the practitioners of which are the late J. J. Marric (John Creasey) of England, who wrote the Gideon of Scotland Yard novels, and the American Ed McBain, whose 87th Precinct books are highly regarded. A useful starting point for a discussion of Glitz would be to consider how this novel parallels and departs from the standard patterns of the police procedural.

1. Like that of Pronto, the plot of Glitz is simple, involving little more than a chase. Are the novels, then, essentially the same except for their different casts of characters?

2. Do you agree with Leonard's judgment that his style, tone, and sound are the same in Glitz as in earlier novels such as Fifty-Two Pickup?

3. The major women characters are independent and brighter than the men. In what other Leonard novels do the females stand out in this way?

4. Leonard's crime fiction is atypical for the genre in that he does not have a recurring detective who confronts cases predictably in book after book. This said, does Vincent Mora have obvious precedents (albeit by different names) in any of the fifteen or so Leonard crime novels that precede Glitz?

5. Is Teddy Magyk realistically drawn? Does Leonard want the reader to sympathize at all with this psychopathic murderer?

6. A critic has called Magyk Leonard's "creepiest villain." Do...

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Literary Techniques

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Realistic dialogue is a noteworthy feature of the novel, and Leonard has said that he got "lots of good Mafia dialogue" from the 1983 Philadelphia crime commission's report. He tries a significantly new narrative technique in the novel, presenting an episode from a variety of points of view: "I would write it from one character's point of view and then switch around and do the same scene again from another character's point of view and find that it had a lot more life in it, that it was a little more dramatic, more colorful, more interesting. I'm going to continue to do that."

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Bibliography

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Bloom, Harold. “Elmore Leonard.” In Modern Crime and Suspense Writers. New York: Chelsea House, 1995. Bloom provides an introduction to Leonard’s life and works, with lengthy quotes from articles by eleven critics. Valuable bibliographical information.

Geherin, David. Elmore Leonard. New York: Continuum, 1989. The best single source of information about Leonard. Includes a brief biography, a critical evaluation of his technique, and detailed discussions of his novels of the 1980’s, including Glitz.

Most, Glenn W. “Elmore Leonard: Splitting Images.” In The Sleuth and the Scholar: Origins, Evolution, and Current Trends in Detective Fiction, edited by Barbara A. Rader and Howard G. Zettler. New York: Greenwood Press, 1988. Suggests hidden psychological and sociological implications of Leonard’s writing. Identifies three distinguishing features of Leonard’s novels: no detection, psychopathic killers as villains, and plots determined by chance.

Skinner, Robert E. The New Hard-Boiled Dicks: A Personal Checklist. Madison, Ind.: Brownstone Books, 1987. Discusses the recent history of hard-boiled crime fiction, with one chapter devoted to Leonard’s novels, including Glitz. Praises Leonard’s realistic female characters.

Wholey, Dennis. “Elmore Leonard.” In The Courage to Change: Personal Conversations About Alcohol with Dennis Wholey. New York: Warner Books, 1986. Leonard describes his drinking problem and explains how his recovery influenced his technique and choice of subjects.

Willett, Ralph. The Naked City: Urban Crime Fiction in the USA. New York: Manchester University Press, 1996. Contains many references to Leonard as one of the writers most adept at analyzing and depicting corruption in American cities.

Related Titles

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Because of its realistic dialogue, Glitz echoes previous Leonard works in a significant way. Indeed, speaking of the novel, Leonard has said: "It's not noticeably better written. I think you'll see the same style, the same tone, the same sound ever since '74, ever since Fifty-Two Pickup [1974] that I would call the beginning of what I'm doing now."

The basic plot pattern of Glitz is similar to that of City Primeval (1980) and Split Images (1981), and central to it is a love story, a commonplace element in Leonard crime novels.

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