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Get Shorty (Chili Palmer #1)

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  12,718 ratings  ·  355 reviews

Mob-connected loanshark Chili Palmer is sick of the Miami grind�plus his "friends" have a bad habit of dying there. So when he chases a deadbeat client out to Hollywood, Chili figures he might like to stay. This town with its dreammakers, glitter, hucksters, and liars�plus gorgeous, partially clad would -be starlets everywhere you look�seems ideal for an enterprising

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Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages
Published June 4th 2002 by HarperCollins HarperTorch (first published 1990)
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Community Reviews

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Kemper
Elmore Leonard had a bad Hollywood experience in the mid-‘80s of working on a film adaptation of LaBrava with Dustin Hoffman. Leonard did multiple unpaid rewrites at the actor’s request, but then Hoffman bailed on the project after six months of meetings leaving Leonard with nothing to show for his time. Leonard’s revenge was Get Shorty and what sweet revenge it is.

Chili Palmer is a small time loan shark in Miami who once got into a beef with another gangster, Ray Barboni, who has held a grudge
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Jamie
Week before last I took a trip by myself. It’s one of my favorite things to do, to disappear off the grid, to land up someplace in a [slightly sketchy; always slightly sketchy] motel. It’s not so much a vacation from anything as it is just a change of scenery.

One of the rules, and it hasn’t failed yet, is to make as many new friends as possible. I can do this on trips, because there’s so much wide open space of solitude that it’s hardly an intrusion. I’ll talk to anyone. I’ll talk to a lamppost.
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Jane Stewart
I enjoyed watching the character Chili, but I was disappointed with unfinished events at the end.

The value of this book is watching a collection of characters and the shallowness of movie-making. It was different and good. But I can’t say I really liked it. Each time I put it down I had no desire to get back to it.

THE DRAW IS CHILI’S CHARACTER:
Chili is a wise guy loan shark. He doesn’t use a gun. His style of intimidation is quiet, making the victim imagine bad things will happen if he doesn’t p
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Bill
I had been meaning to read Elmore Leonard for years, ever since seeing movies like Reservoir 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 ma
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Mark Dawson
George Higgins might have been an influence on the late, great Elmore Leonard but, for me at least, there is no-one who nails dialogue quite like Duke. It's a great regret that I never got to meet the man because he's a hero. But it's more than dialogue, isn't it? Opening lines, pacing, plotting - he could do all of it, and it seemed to be completely effortless. I think he's written better books than this, but it's the one that brought me to him and so I still have a soft spot for it. Chilli Pal ...more
Nate D
Probably one of our better current pulp stylists. This is one of the more popular, probably partly due to the movie. Junk, mostly, but of the best kind.

My parents had a lot of these kicking around the house, so there was a period where I picked them up whenever I ran out books.
Drew
I think, for a brief moment, I was expecting something a bit heavier when I picked this up - but (and I know I'm saying it again) the whole thing ended up being like Elmore Leonard had saddled up at the table next to me and started spinning a tale about his friend Chili Palmer and the mess he got himself into. It was cozy, it was funny, it was off-the-cuff without trying to be, and it popped. Doesn't make me any more interested in going to LA - but damned if I'm not smiling as I think about Chil ...more
Paul
Leonard is a respected writer by many of writers as well readers. He has a way of paring down the story and characters dialogue that moves quickly across the pages. The end of this edition has an interview a few years back between Leonard and Martin Amis where each discusses their writing style. This book is a take on Hollywood and the colorful characters that inhabit that enchanted land. The dialogue, character driven story moves fast and the end was upon me before I even knew it. I'll dip into ...more
Lee Battersby
Entertaining, funny, tongue-in-cheek collision of the twinned fraudulent worlds of the small time hood and the small time Hollywood hanger-on, with a menagerie of only partially self-aware characters in the best Leonard tradition. It's a romp in the grand old fashion, and it's easy to see why this was such a hit as a movie-- Hollywood loves nothing more than proving it's hip to its own faults, and Leonard's acerbic take on the grimy, desperate world that springs up in the shadows of the mega-stu ...more
Mark Desrosiers
My first Elmore Leonard novel, and all the hype & rep is 100% on the money: nimble dialogue-driven plot, zero exposition, groovy approach to prose that suggests grammar well-learned then tossed into the backseat, memorable and sympathetic characters on both sides of the crosshairs. Here, the plot involves a Florida shylock who is somewhat forced to make his mark in Hollywood, become some sort of producer or even inventor of plots involving his own escapades -- that last bit gets very meta, b ...more
David Williams
Get Shorty is considered to be one of Elmore Leonard's great novels. Like all Leonard stories I have encountered it is a wonderful experience to read. The story is amusing. A man who runs a dry cleaning business owes money to a loan shark. He misses a plane, but his luggage doesn't. When the plane goes down the dry cleaner is believed dead. He and his wife keep quite to collect the insurance money and settle a lawsuit with the airline. Once they get the money the man leaves his wife with the cas ...more
Larissa
My first Elmore Leonard book, and great fun. I knew going in that Leonard has an ear for dialog, but that didn't make it any less of a delight. And it's not even that he has an ear for New York mobster dialog, or Hollywood schmuck dialog, although he certainly does. But I would say more that Leonard creates his own internal speech patterns--characters throughout the book drop verbs in much the same way, elide their sentences in a way that flows nicely together and works naturally for spoken dial ...more
Waven
This was my first Elmore Leonard novel, and a good choice I think. Though first published in 1990, this story has aged extremely well and was a lot of fun. Main character Chili Palmer is very likeable - despite mob ties and loansharking activities - but even more surprisingly, he's believable. And so are the other main players. There's no invincible, unimpeachable hero; there are 'mean motherf-ers' but not a trace of "pure evil" bad-guys; and the extras are good, bad, and ugly in equal portions. ...more
Sue Herbert
I approached Elmore Leonard with caution, because I'm British and I tend to read a lot of classic books. Leonard's language is American, modern, stylised and for me a bit difficult to get into. But I loved 'Get Shorty', it made me laugh out loud. My son borrowed it after me and when he asked me what it was about, I said 'It's about a leather jacket'. That puzzled him a bit, but afterwards he said 'It is, isn't it, because that's what starts it all off!'.

Chilli Palmer is a great character - noth
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Rob
It's been years since I saw the film version of Get Shorty, so I came to this one more or less clean. And, as with Elmore Leonard's other books, this one doesn't disappoint. In some ways, it's review-proof. You have all the usual Leonard stuff: wiseguys and smart ladies, whip-smart dialogue, lapses of morality and struggles for redemption, cons, shylocks, dupes, and broads. It's all here, only this time it's set against the backdrop of the Hollywood studio system, which is easily as amoral as th ...more
Marigold
I'm trying to clean up my list of "books/authors I haven't read, that cause people to stare at me in fascinated horror when they find I haven't read them!" Elmore Leonard is one. Of course I've seen the movie Get Shorty & after perusing a few lists, figured this would be the book to start with. Lots of fun - Hollywood & Miami setting, which made me feel warm, that was a plus! Wonderful dialogue, well-drawn characters, tight plot. I'm not a huge fan of crime fiction but I'm glad I read th ...more
John P
In this novel Mr. Leonard had me guessing at first. I couldn't make out that the 'bad guy' we first meet is actually the 'good guy' of the novel. His dark and shady past and his violent temper do not automatically shout "Hey, like me. Identify with me." In the bulk of the novel and through to the end however, Chili exhibits consistent honesty and clear thinking. Character development is strong for a few others that we meet; one wonders where Mr. Leonard learned about this class of people and the ...more
Amanda (awesome)
The story's great. The plot's great, the movie's great, but that's not why I loved this book.

Here I am trying to plot out my next book and along comes this gem which is basically a meta-exploration of story-telling, from that first glint of a good idea, to the way it falls apart on you, again and again, but can be bolstered with flashes of insight and workshopping with others.

This scene kills me, where a shylock asks a drug dealer if he knows how to write a screenplay, and the dealer responds,

"
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Barbara VA
This was my first Elmore Leonard and what a fun read! Yes, I have seen the movie so I do come in a bit jaded but it was just such fun, I just loved this. The Hollywood culture is so cleanly defined. Is it the way things really are? Not being in the business I cannot say, but it sure makes sense based on how messed up most books get going from page to screen!
Northpapers
Elmore Leonard's world is fairly flat, morally. His protagonists are usually just slightly better than their enemies, justice doesn't always get served, and he often ends books with his main characters on the brink of a moral decision. No one is really righteous, so the coolest survive.

All this just serves to take a lot of pressure off the narrative, and gives Leonard's twisting plots plenty of room to play.

"Get Shorty" is a prime example of this. The main character is a loan shark with mob ties
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Becky
Ex mafia type gets interested in the movies, has some boring chat, does over a few pretty idiotic people, kind of gets the girl. Not exciting in any way. With the other books I've disliked off the list, I could at least understand why they might have made it. But this was just a yawn from start to finish. Disappointing.
Chris
Rum Punch has real tension because Leonard doesn't seem tied to any of the characters, which means anything could happen at the end. But what this one lacks in tension--the only suspense is figuring out how Chili Palmer's going to win--it makes up for in hilarity. Hollywood's an easy target sure, but Leonard still hammers it. The two running gags--you watch characters clumsily cobble together scripts based on their experiences and watch characters imagining their realities as a series of shots, ...more
Chris Charlton
Although I was greatful for the quick paced, fat free writing style, having read far, far too many novels that long outstay their welcome, I did think it came at a cost. It times the novel felt quite vacuous, and for better or worse, similar in style to many Tarantino productions. Mainly worse. A bit like meeting a loudmouthed cockney geezer in a bar for the first time, all ' mate, mate mate...' with all the depth of a puddle of piss. Must admit, I thought it gained in intrigue and steam towards ...more
Nathan Yocum
"The movie was better." -No one ever
Marco Bertolini
Chili Palmer is a loan shark. When Momo, his boss, dies Chili has to cope with a mobster whose nose he punched twelwe years ago. He is now the one who takes care of Chili's customers. And one of those customers is missing. Chili has to go to Hollywood to save the case, bbut it is not that easy.

You can rely on Elmore Leonard to tell you the hell of a good story : this is probably one of his best stories ever ! And Barry Sonnenfeld turned it in a very good movie with John Travolta as an amazing C
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Ram
Chili Palmer is a Miami loan shark who is considering a change of job when one of his “clients” goes missing. For more than the usual reason, Chili follows his trail to LA and promptly gets tangled up with a film producer past his prime & his horror-film starlet. Very soon he is bitten by the movie bug and realises that he has the best script of them all – his own life story. Add in a diverse cast of characters – the current top gun actor, a local trigger-happy drug dealer who wants to laund ...more
Doug
Recently, in a discussion I had with friends on the day of Leonard's passing, I said that I think Elmore Leonard was the American Wodehouse, which is a mild misnomer since for a fair percentage of his life, P.G. Wodehouse was the American Wodehouse[1]. What I was getting at, and for my poor friends beleaguered edification I explained, was that once you read a certain N quantity of their works, you start to have trouble remembering if you've read any particular work. Cursory glances at the back—" ...more
Simon
Get Shorty was a light read and I guess enjoyable enough. It's got loads and loads of plot (perhaps a bit too much) but not enough character development. All the characters seemed a little thin for me and while it would no doubt appeal to people familiar with LA and the movie business (or those even fantasise about being in the movie business and watch the Oscars and Golden Globes each year fooling themselves into thinking they are in some ways part of this fake family and actors really are thei ...more
Michael Parker
There's no doubt that Elmore Leonard is a consummate writer. I'd never read any of his books before I heard of his death earlier this year. I'd seen the film 'Get Shorty' and enjoyed it immensely, particularly John Travolta as Chilli Palmer. I thought the book was fairly good, but I soon became uncomfortable with the dialogue: a continuous output of Bronx speak, which I found exhausting in a way. Perhaps it's because I'm English and the American tough guy vernacular grates on my ear; I don't kno ...more
Geoff
This book was great! I mean I would totally read it again and I’m actually looking forward to watching the film tonight or tomorrow. And the reason this is interesting is this book is for our Books into Movies book group and I’m usually wary of the books and haven’t really fell for one yet, but this one was just so humorous and deceptively convoluted that one can’t help but enjoy it.

This story is great because it weaves real life and hollywood movies together (in a book!) and many of the charact
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Elmore Leonard books 6 36 Oct 25, 2013 08:06PM  
  • Blind Man with a Pistol (Harlem Cycle, #8)
  • The Big Nowhere (L.A. Quartet, #2)
  • Nineteen Seventy Seven (Red Riding, #2)
  • Fantômas (Fantômas, #1)
  • The Big Blowdown
  • The Friends of Eddie Coyle
  • The Getaway
  • When the Sacred Ginmill Closes (Matthew Scudder, #6)
  • Chariots of Fire
  • The Glass Key
  • The Hot Rock (Dortmunder, #1)
  • The Man With The Getaway Face (Parker, #2)
  • Bunner Sisters
  • Smiley's People
  • Miami Blues
  • Dirty Tricks
  • The Choirboys
  • Friday the Rabbi Slept Late
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Elmore John Leonard lived in Dallas, Oklahoma City and Memphis before settling in Detroit in 1935. After serving in the navy, he studied English literature at the University of Detroit where he entered a short story competition. His earliest published novels in the 1950s were westerns, but Leonard went on to specialize in crime fiction and suspense thrillers, many of which have been adapted into m ...more
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“There were a lot of terms you had to learn, as opposed to the shylock business where all you had to know how to say was 'Give me the fuckin money.” 7 likes
“Ernesto Palmer got the name Chili originally because he was hot-tempered as a kid...Now he was Chili, Tommy Carlo said, because he had chilled down and didn't need the hot temper. All he had to do was turn his eyes dead when he looked at a slow pay, not say more than three words, and the guy would sell his wife's car to make the payment.” 2 likes
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