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Get Shorty Paperback – January 25, 2005

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Editorial Reviews Review

Nobody writes openings like Elmore Leonard. Case in point: "When Chili first came to Miami Beach twelve years ago they were having one of their off-and-on cold winters: thirty-four degrees the day he met Tommy Carlo for lunch at Vesuvio's on South Collins and had his leather jacket ripped off." You need to know about this because you need to know why there's bad blood between Chili Palmer and Ray Bones, the guy who stole his coat and is now his boss--and has ordered him to collect $4,200 from a dead guy. Except the guy didn't die; he went to Las Vegas with $300,000. So Chili goes to Las Vegas, one thing leads to another, and pretty soon he's in Los Angeles, hanging out with a movie producer named Harry Zimm and learning what it takes to be a player in Hollywood.

Get Shorty is classic Elmore Leonard: While other people write "crime fiction," Leonard's come up with a masterful social comedy that happens to be about criminals (and other fast operators). He's a master of snappy dialogue and dizzying plot twists. The best parts of Get Shorty move along so briskly you almost forget there's somebody with a firm control over the story. And you'll be rooting for Chili to get the money, the girl, and the studio deal. --Ron Hogan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“The greatest crime writer of our time, perhaps ever!” (The New York Times Book Review)

“An absolute master.” (The Detroit News)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; Reprint edition (January 25, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060777095
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060777098
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (91 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #914,519 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Elmore Leonard wrote forty-five novels and nearly as many western and crime short stories across his highly successful career that spanned more than six decades. Some of his bestsellers include Road Dogs, Up in Honey's Room, The Hot Kid, Mr. Paradise, Tishomingo Blues, and the critically acclaimed collection of short stories Fire in the Hole. Many of his books have been made into movies, including Get Shorty, Out of Sight, and Rum Punch, which became Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown. Justified, the hit series from FX, is based on Leonard's character Raylan Givens, who appears in Riding the Rap, Pronto, Raylan and the short story "Fire in the Hole". He was a recipient of the National Book Foundation's Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, the Lifetime Achievement Award from PEN USA, and the Grand Master Award of the Mystery Writers of America. He was known to many as the 'Dickens of Detroit' and was a long-time resident of the Detroit area.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Doug Vaughn HALL OF FAME on January 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
With Elmore Leonard we get a new book every year or so, and it's a good thing, because even though not every one is a solid success, they are all fun and every now and then a real masterpiece emerges. I believe that Get Shorty is such a success. It's a Cinderella story as if written by Damon Runyan. Chili Palmer, a small time mobster on the trail of a deadbeat who has run off with $300,000 of mob money after faking his own death, finds himself in Hollywood getting involved with movie making instead of recovering the money. On one level the book is pure Leonard an exciting underworld story with great street talk and those edgy characters that he does so well. On another level the book is a wonderful social satire and, with its shift from Vegas to L.A., shows us a contemporary world lost in greed and seduced by show biz. Palmer's easy success as a producer (in essence doing his own life story) is a thinly veiled commentary on the shallowness of Hollywood and the lack of skill of many of its leaders. Not a surprising position for a writer who has seen almost all of his books (till this one) made into truely terrible movies (remember Stick? Mr. Majestek? The Moonshine Wars?).
Whatever else, this book is a fast paced and entertaining piece of fiction. The characters are interesting, the dialogue is memorable and funny, and the plot is ingenious and leads to a very satisfactory conclusion. This is Leonard at his best - and that is awfully good. And surprise, this time he even got a good movie out of it!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jessica Lux on May 15, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I loved the movie Get Shorty, as well as the other Leonard books that have been turned into movies (Rum Punch, Out of Sight), so I had to try out this book. It's a great read and much of the snappy dialoge from the movie is taken right from the book's narrative. The dialoge works great both on screen and in the novel.

I appreciated the subtle differences in the plot line between the movie and the book, and the differences were enough to keep me interested in the book despite knowing much of the movie by heart. Leonard is a master at writing dialoge. He uses grammar that precisely captures the way people speak, and each character has a unique way of talking that is personally identifiable.

The character descriptions were so similar to the movie that I had to wonder if Leonard wrote the novel with certain actors in mind!

I recommend this as a companion to the movie. They can be enjoyed together as the same story via two different mediums, each with its own richness.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Anthony Bruno on August 23, 2010
Format: Paperback
Okay, you've seen the movie, which is pretty damn good, and Travolta as "Chili Palmer" is pretty cool, but DON'T IGNORE THE BOOK. Leonard is the master of character and dialogue and an especially keen observer when it comes to greed. Sure, Hollywood is an easy target, but he skewers the movie biz in his oh-so-unique way. If you can erase the film actors from your mind (never an easy task), try to read this book with a fresh eye. It's one delicious ride you won't regret taking.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Paul on November 11, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
The movie "Get Shorty" has always been one of my fave's since it came out. I finally decided to read the book. It's great, well worth reading to get more at the motives, but I was disappointed because some of my favorite scenes were "missing" (rather the movie added them.) Maybe I would have been mad at the movie if I'd read the book first.
I feel like Chili Palmer myself, having watched the movie first and having liked it better. But here's my review: The characters in this story are great. Chili - the too-cool-for-anyone-but-nice-guy ex-mobster, Leo - the pathetic loser dry-cleaner, Karen - the hot, smart, cynical actress, Bo Catlett - the mean, delusional, drug-dealing Hollywood-player-wanna-be. You have no idea what is going to happen next in Leonard's books and the characters really become alive as a result.
The book can help bug fans of the movie get more out of the "visual fabric" of the story. The interactions between Chili and Bo are more developed in the book than the movie, which I appreciated, as well as more insights and discussions about what the movie "Mr. Lovejoy" is actually about. The meeting between Nikki and Chili is hilarious in the book. And the book focuses on Karen's personality more. My advice is to read it and see it.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Bill MacDonald on November 28, 1999
Format: Paperback
I had been meaning to read Elmore Leonard for years now, ever since seeing movies like Resevoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. I knew Quentin Tarantino was a big fan and was heavily influenced by Leonard. So, after much surfing and emailing, I determined Get Shorty was likely the best novel to start with. It was pretty good, but a really light read. What makes Leonard's writing shine is the dialogue; you've heard the overused "dialogue crackles" rave? Well Leonard really delivers...this is why his novels make such successful movies; they read like them. This is a novel perfect for those who typically prefer movies over novels. I prefer the depth of Michael Connelly or Greg Iles or Dennis Lehane myself. But this is an entertaining story and certainly holds your attention, and before you know it, it's over. Just like a good movie.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By JR Dunn on August 18, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a product of the lazy, latter-day Leonard who knows he's a great writer who can just sit back and let it flow. The onetime master of concision now takes a hundred-odd pages just to set things up.

Even his ear for dialogue has started to fade on him. Now everybody like, y'know, talks like, uhh, some kinda boob, get what I'm sayin'? The line of self-parody is lying a little too close in these pages.

He still has a hand with the quirky minor characters, though they can't carry an entire 350-page plus novel. But this one did make it clear to me why Leonard is so popular with the pomo crowd: his characters inhabit an utterly amoral universe, one with no values or standards whatsoever. Here, e.g., the protagonist is that well-known figure drawn from life, the friendly, easygoing loan shark. In your traditional crime novel--Chandler or either MacDonald can serve as examples--the action occurs against a hard-edged moral framework that is at least given lip service. Now I won't demand that every piece of fiction act as a morality play. But this was a case where I finished the thing, and kind of enjoyed the ride, but didn't like myself for it. In Leonard's recent novels, all that matters is who gets to take home the candy. And when you get right down to it, that just ain't enough.
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