Read Be Cool by Elmore Leonard Free Online
Book Title: Be Cool|
The author of the book: Elmore Leonard
Edition: HarperCollins Publishers
Date of issue: February 28th 2005
ISBN 13: 9781615534586
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 9.13 MB
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Reader ratings: 4.4
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Published in 1999, Be Cool is the sequel to Elmore Leonard's Get Shorty Whether it was good vibes or his fans or the money, or all three, Leonard felt compelled to continue the misadventures of Miami Beach loan shark turned film producer Ernest "Chili" Palmer in Los Angeles. The reader is quickly brought up to speed that Chili's movie Get Leo was not only produced but was a hit. As the story goes, the studio moved forward with a sequel, the producer balked, the studio let him come up with a story, he did, it didn't work, the sequel tanked and now our man is back to square one in the business.
Chili is reintroduced at Swinger's Diner in L.A. meeting with Tommy Athens, a guy he grew up with in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn who came to Hollywood and started his own recording label, NTL Records. Athens is a promoter for a punk rocker named Derek Stones who he's trying to break, as well as a gangsta rap act called Ropa-Dope who are closer to gangstas than rappers. He pitches Chili a movie idea based on his rock 'n' roll lifestyle. "You don't have an idea yet," Chili said. "You have a setting, where the idea develops, becomes your plot." He turned to leave and looked back. "You need a girl in it." Before Chili can return to the table, he watches a man step out of a van and fire five shots at Tommy, hitting him once in the head.
Cooperating with a detective for Organized Crime named Darrell Holmes, Chili's priority is coming up with an idea for his next movie, the last in his three picture deal at Tower Pictures, where Elaine Levin, the production head who greenlit Get Leo and who is very partial to Chili, has been hired back. Chili had been working on an idea based on a girl he talked to and tape recorded named Linda Moon, a spunky, aspiring musician from West Texas who answers the phone for the dating service Chili contacted, looking to upgrade his social life. Using Tommy's murder as the opening scene for his movie idea, Chili figures out that Linda Moon might be the key to the plot.
Linda phones the movie producer to let him know she has a show tonight. Elmore Leonard, like a world champion athlete who can coast for weeks and turn the jets on when it counts, really won me over when Linda Moon entered the story.
The tape came to Linda saying she appeared with a girl group called Chicks International whenever they had a gig. Linda, a black chick and an Asian chick, a Vietnamese. They played private parties and clubs around town, the Viper Roon, Spaceland, Jacks Sugar Shack, the Martini Lounge. "Look us up and stop by if you want a few laughs. We're Miki, Viki and Tiki on stage, only on stage. I'm Miki. Viki's the black chick; she used to be a Harlette, backing up Bette Midler. She has to get stoned before we go on. Tiki barely speaks English, she fakes the lyrics. I have to put my mind somewhere else, imagine fires burning in the night. That's how embarrassing it is."
Chili never has and never will know much about music, but is sold on his movie idea being about Linda Moon. He creates his own real-life complication by offering to manage her. Linda's current rep--a Kangol-cap wearing white guy named Raji who struts around like a pimp and travels with a Samoan bodyguard who calls himself Elliot Wilhelm--are notified by Chili in the parking lot that Linda has quit. Chili gets out with his head on by offering Elliot, an aspiring thespian, a screen test. Linda tells Chili her band Odessa ("It's metal with a twang, and if you can imagine that think of AC/DC meets Patsy Cline.") cut a record, but when the label tried to mess with her style, she walked out on her deal, handing back the advance.
More characters enter the picture, all serving as material for Chili and his movie idea. Edie Athens, the departed's widow, has gone from washing laundry for Aerosmith in her youth to inheriting NTL Records, which Chili convinces her to hold onto, hiring the music supervisor from his two pictures, Hy Gordon, to run the business end of. Linda puts Odessa back together, her easy-going guitarist Dale Arden and irascible drummer James "Speedy" Gonzalez arriving in L.A. Chili meets Derek Stones sobering up in Edie's pool in his underwear and tries to tutor the youngster in how to be cool. Derek's mohawked girlfriend Tiffany, NTL's executive assistant, has her head screwed on far tighter than the rocker.
Chili returns to his place to find a dead Russian, shot twice in the back. Detective Holmes has moved on from Edie Athens being a suspect in Tommy's murder and with Chili's help, arrives on a Russian criminal named Roman Bulkin, who Tommy beat up for trying to run an extortion scam on NTL Records. It appears one of Bulkin's men was waiting for Chili to get home and was shot by somebody else who wanted Chili dead. That would be Joe Loop, an old gangland hitman who Raji has hired to bump off Chili. In the middle of all this intrigue, Chili works to give Linda Moon her big break and also becomes romantically involved with Elaine Levin, who's curious where his life begins and his movie idea ends.
Be Cool reminded me of being dragged into a jewelry store at the mall. The merchandise is beautiful. My feet start to hurt a bit standing at the display counter. The service is impeccable but by now, my feet are really starting to get tired. By the time the transaction is finished, I'm happy to get out of there. By the time I reached the end of Be Cool, I'd figured out why, as great a fan as I am of Elmore Leonard, I really didn't cotton to Get Shorty or this sequel.
Chili Palmer is a douchebag.
No, I don't mean John Travolta in the two movies, although opinions vary. I mean that Chili is still measuring virtually every woman he meets in terms of her appearance, what she's wearing, what her temperament is and what her physical features are like. It's no mystery why this guy's wife left him, why Karen Flores (from Get Shorty) has left him and to be honest, why he doesn't seem to have any good friends either. Chili may be cool and he may handle his business, but he's superficial and boxes people into those who can help him and those who can't. I'll give Elmore Leonard credit for writing a believable film producer, but I really didn't find the character of Chili Palmer compelling.
When discussing the genesis of Rum Punch, Leonard has stated that he started out with the character of the bail bondsman, Max Cherry, thinking that guy's line of work has to lead to some interesting situations, but when the character of airline stewardess Jackie Burke (or Jackie Brown in the movie) entered the story, Leonard realized it was about her. For me, personally, when Linda Moon entered the story, I thought it should be about her, one way or another. Chili was a supporting player with a colorful background and eccentric habit of staging real-life situations for the movie idea he's working on in his head, but I didn't want to spend a lot of time with him. I wanted Linda!
No! I did not see this character as being anything like Christina Milian on the page. I'm not sure where the producers of Be Cool were coming from in 2004. I saw Linda Moon a lot more like this:
Carey Mulligan. One is a girl and the other is a woman. One is Latoya Jackson and the other is Janet. The casting session I'm holding in my head has nothing to do with my opinion of the novel. I guess I just got carried away.
Where Elmore Leonard surpasses Get Shorty was his across the board portrayal of female characters. Each of them has moxie and much more going for them than what they can do for Chili Palmer. In addition to Linda Moon, who struts into the story in control, each of the female characters, from Edie Athens to Tiffany to Linda's former bandmate Vita, are given a real voice and something to do in the story, which I often did not find with Karen Flores in Get Shorty. Chili's relationship with Elaine Levin, which segues from professional to intimate, is handled with a great deal of sweetness. The pair have chemistry, and the way that Leonard describes Elaine seems based on a woman he met and was in love with.
She shrugged in the loose cotton sweater, looking away and back again. The jeans surprised him. At the studio she wore suits and pushed the sleeves up; he'd watch her walk around the office barefoot talking and smoking, going over to her giant ashtray to stub out a cigarette, walk away and the cigarette would still be burning. She was the girl who ran production at a major studio and she was respected. At home she was a softer version. Looking at him with calm brown eyes.
I never felt tension that something bad might befall Chili Palmer/ John Travolta. That's not really Elmore Leonard's fault; I was just too familiar with the movies to be really surprised by anything that happened on the page. Chili waltzes through the story, acting cool, a former wiseguy reading the riot act to various Hollywood types who only know from the mob what they've seen in Scorsese movies. It's haltingly fun and the dialogue is excellent, but I think that Chili is in many ways the least interesting character in these books. I would not recommend anyone who I might have tempted to give Elmore Leonard a try start with these two books.
Here's my list of Elmore Leonard novels ranked from favorite to least favorite:
1. Stick (1983)
2. Killshot (1989)
3. Pronto (1993)
4. Be Cool (1999)
5. Get Shorty (1990)
6. LaBrava (1983)
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Read information about the authorElmore 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 motion pictures.
Father of Peter Leonard.
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