Tfitoby's Reviews > Three-Ten to Yuma and Other Stories

Three-Ten to Yuma and Other Stories by Elmore Leonard
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Aug 03, 12

bookshelves: short-stories, western
Read from July 29 to August 03, 2012

Seven tales of good men in tough situations

We know all about Elmore Leonard these days, the master of the underworld dialogue and plots like corkscrews. It was a surprise to hear he made his name writing tales of the 19th century western frontier but no surprise at all to find that this early work was very well written and an enjoyable read.

I say that but I still don't consider myself a westerns man, the closest I get to that would be drooling over the cinematic achievement of There Will Be Blood, and loving the Altman revisionist western McCabe and Mrs Miller.

I wouldn't go so far as to say that these stories were formulaic but once I got a feel for them I knew the general outline of what would come. That's a bit of a drawback, but then a lot of people love to read predictable stories because they're comfortable. It seems odd to describe a collection of stories that feature the deaths of many an innocent and many an outlaw as comfortable but that's the way Leonard structured them.

The situations are all different, but the men are the same. These are good men in a place that functions almost without law, where trust is at a premium and greed at an all time high. These are real people so minor acts of heroism are countered by genuine fear, cruelty is seen as a direct result of laziness and greed, strong men are only as strong as the woman they have to support them (a surprising point in a genre that gave us the stereotypical black hats vs white hats amongst others,) and to use the title of an E.L. Doctorow western these early stories of Leonard serve as a Welcome to Hard Times for the western novices amongst us.

A word on the title story, having seen the James Mangold remake starring Batman and Gladiator this was not what I was expecting, it's subtle and poses questions about human behaviour, it blurs the lines between what is traditionally considered good and bad men. The movie is a bit of a joke in comparison. I am yet to see the original but I'm sure I will at some point if it's closer to the source material.

I'm not sure if I'll read more of the western stories of Leonard but I enjoyed this one enough and will look forward to reading his novel Hombre (it means man, Paul Newman is Hombre! to quote the movie poster.)
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Reading Progress

07/29/2012 page 23
12.0% 6 comments
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message 1: by Josh (new)

Josh Nice review - I've seen this collection around a few bookstores but didnt bother picking it up as I'm really into Westerns but Leonard is a master...


Tfitoby Of all his western collections I'd suggest this is the one worth checking out simply for the story that the movies were based. But I imagine you'd get the same feel for it no matter what collection you picked up.

Harper seems to have released a full collection and then split them in to four parts as well.


message 3: by Josh (new)

Josh Tfitoby wrote: "Of all his western collections I'd suggest this is the one worth checking out simply for the story that the movies were based. But I imagine you'd get the same feel for it no matter what collection..."

Didnt Elmore Leonard write the story that the TV Series 'Justified' was based on?


Tfitoby Yeah the story "Fire in the Hole" was in his collection When the Women Come Out to Dance and there's a few other Raylan Givens stories about, most notably his most recent Raylan: A Novel


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