It's fun to see Raylan Givens again and as I'm a big fan of "Justified" it's nice to see him in a familiar context. Namely, Harlan County, Kentucky. In fact, most of the characters in this book come right out of seasons 2 and 3 of the series, but with some significant changes. Characters that died on the show are alive, and sometimes with slightly altered names that fit Elmore Leonard's greater continuity.
That's part of what's fun here: the melding of the two universes, and it works just fine. My problem with the book is that it seems fairly lightweight for Elmore Leonard. He's such an entertaining writer with a mind that shoots sparks out like a catherine wheel, but this one seemed a little... tired, maybe. I don't think he wrote it just to make a buck, but maybe Raylan and Elmore are slowing down a bit.
It's not that the book isn't fun- it is. Lots of fun. But it it's not FREAKY DEAKY fun, or PRONTO fun (the story that introduced Raylan Givens to us). Raylan seems to be a hybrid of the character from the earlier books and the television character, which is fine- I saw Timothy Olyphant as I listened to this book- but I was taken out of the story a couple times while I tried to figure out the continuity differences.
That said, it's always nice to read some good Elmore Leonard characters- and this book has a lot of 'em. Some we kind of know, and some we're introduced to here for the first time. And nobody writes dialogue like Elmore Leonard. And there is some nice growth for Raylan as well and an ending that will make fans of the television show stop and go, "whuh?!!"
The narrator does a nice job with the book too. He reads the offbeat dialogue with a clear understanding of the inflections and rhythms, something I often screw up the first time I read a sentence. Very well done in that department.
RAYLAN is not the best Elmore Leonard book I've read/heard, though I know opinions vary and there's no accounting for taste (most people liked TISHOMINGO BLUES more than me too...). It's prettygood though, and like I said in the headline: Good Elmore Leonard is better than many writers at the top of their game. Give it a try.
Before I bought this I had finished reading only one Stephen King book and listened to only a couple on audio. The one I managed to finish was only 148 pages long so I wouldn't call myself a "fan." Especially since I've started several of his books in the last thirty years and just given up on them.
So why did I purchase "On Writing?" Well, I am a writer trying to make a switch to mainstream fiction, and who else has been more successful AND written a book with advice on how he did it AND been available on Audible?
The experiment was a success as far as I am concerned. The book gives lots of insight into the publishing industry as well as where he got some of his ideas. He courageously gives opinions on his stories and other writers which, more often than not made me shrug and think, "That's pretty accurate, I guess..." His personal history was pretty cool too, and it's always nice for writers to see that someone is actually doing what we want to do. Realistically, even if I do break into writing, I'm not likely to replicate King's success- none of us are- but to think that you might be able to make a living at it is nice, even if it is a LOOOOOONG shot.
Mr King's narration is fine. He's not as expressive as Simon Preble, but he knows his material! I've thought for years that he wasn't the best narrator of his books because his women sound like his men and his dialogue often sounds like his exposition, but I realized as I listened to this that it doesn't matter that much. He may not be a great "actor" but he tells a heckuva story. Now I think I've been unfair to him.
I don't think a recap of the book is appropriate here. If you look at the cover you know what it's about. The only thing you really require from a review is whether it does a good job with what it sets out to do. My answer is- yes, it does. The greatest thing I can say about this audio book is that it makes me want to go out and buy the hard copy- not because I wouldn't listen again, I will, but because I want to use it as a reference.
If you're on the fence (and I was at one point), I say take the leap. You'll enjoy it.
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