Thursday, March 8, 2012

Reading Rainbow: Pronto by Elmore Leonard

With Pronto being the book in which Raylan Givens was first introduced, it made as much sense as any other book when choosing a re-entry point for Elmore Leonard, who I had not read since the late 1990s.

While readers flocking to the book in search for more Raylan than their weekly fix of Justified can give them may wade through the first 33 pages wondering where the hell he is, it isn't too long before he saunters in wearing his Stetson hat. Given the fact that Leonard can spin a yarn as easily as he might pour a drink, it's hardly even noticeable that Raylan hasn't made an appearance until he does--with an air of mystery about him.

What might be most odd about the whole book (in retrospect and given that Raylan Givens has become a rather iconic figure much after the fact) is that its events largely take place as a result of Harry Arno--a 66-year-old bookie from Miami--giving Raylan the slip for the second time in their dealings with one another. Knowing Raylan as we have all come to know him, this makes for an odd and almost incongruous introduction.

Regardless of the fact that one has to reconcile Raylan's error with the character on Justified, Leonard's penchant for taut, funny, unpredictable storytelling is on full display in Pronto, and there is the added bonus of getting to read the Tommy Bucks scene from the open of the pilot as it was originally written, complete with the full back story.

If you watch Justified--and if you don't, what the hell are you doing wrong with your life?--there is plenty to love here, even if there are slight changes from the source material that Graham Yost & Co. made with regards to Raylan's back story.

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