Read Swag by Elmore Leonard Online

swag

This "brilliant caper" (New York Times) from bestselling author Elmore Leonard is a rollicking tale of modern urban crime featuring a cast of small-time criminals with big-time dreams.Ernest Stickley Jr. figures his luck's about to change when Detroit used-car salesman Frank Ryan catches him trying to boost a ride from Ryan's lot. Frank's got some surefire schemes for gettThis "brilliant caper" (New York Times) from bestselling author Elmore Leonard is a rollicking tale of modern urban crime featuring a cast of small-time criminals with big-time dreams.Ernest Stickley Jr. figures his luck's about to change when Detroit used-car salesman Frank Ryan catches him trying to boost a ride from Ryan's lot. Frank's got some surefire schemes for getting rich quick--all of them involving guns--and all Stickley has to do is follow "Ryan's Rules" to share the wealth.But sometimes rules need to be bent, maybe even broken to succeed in the world of crime, especially when the "brains" of the operation knows less than nothing....

Title : Swag
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780061741364
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 245 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Swag Reviews

  • Dan Schwent
    2018-11-17 20:11

    When used car salesman Frank Ryan catches Ernest Stickley stealing a car off his lot, ideas start going through his head. Soon, Ryan and Stickley are armed robbers and damn good ones. Things go smoothly until someone offers them a crack at even bigger money...Like many Elmore Leonard books, Swag is a fast-moving crime story. The two main characters, Ryan and Stick, are cast from one of Leonard' standard molds: the criminals who aren't as smart as they think they are. They're a bit of an odd couple. Stick's nervous and not all that confident while Ryan is overconfident and thinks he knows everything. They were pretty likeable as far as armed robbers go but I kept thinking about how Richard Stark's Parker would mop the floor with them.The bad guys were suitably bad, both Sportree and the cops. As he does a lot of the time, Leonard makes the antagonists almost as interesting as the protagonists. Once complications start surfacing, they come in droves, (view spoiler)[from Arlene witnessing one of their early robberies, to Stick having to shoot two men, to Billy Ruiz. (hide spoiler)] The ending was surprising but was also perfect.Leonard's smooth-flowing dialogue and twisting plot were the stars of the show, as they normally are in one of his books. I loved that Frank Ryan had his rules of robbery, just like Elmore Leonard has his rules of writing.It wasn't perfect but I liked it quite a bit. It was a good way to spend a Sunday evening.

  • James Thane
    2018-11-24 22:06

    Frank Ryan is working as a used car salesman when he catches Ernest Stickly, Jr.--"Stick"--boosting a car from the lot. Frank picks Stick out of a lineup, and the cops seem to have Stick dead to rights, but when the case comes to trial, Frank takes the stand and claims that he's no longer sure about his identification. Without Frank's testimony, the case collapses and Stick goes free.Frank later catches up with Stick and says that he admires his talent and the only reason that he even called the cops was because he felt like Stick was punking him by stealing a car right under his nose. Frank is looking for a partner to go into the armed robbery business together. He's made a careful study of crime and has concluded that armed robbery provides the best returns with the least amount of risk. He's also compiled a list of ten rules that he believes will guarantee success in this endeavor. (This book was first published as Ryan's Rules.)Stick signs on and the pair pull a string of successful robberies in the Detroit suburbs during a very profitable summer. The two are living large in an apartment complex where there are always nubile women around the pool and where there's always a party going on. But then Frank comes up with a grand scheme to knock over a department store. This would by a large step up from the liquor and grocery stores that have been their principal targets thus far. More important, it would require that they violate at least a couple of Ryan's Rules. Stick is reluctant, but Frank says that now they are experienced criminals they can adjust the rules to take advantage of new opportunities.This may or may not be a good idea for Frank and Stick, but it's great fun for the reader. This is one of Leonard's earlier crime novels after a career of writing westerns, and it may not be quite the equal of some of the books that Leonard would write later, but it contains all the traits that one looks for in a book by EL, including great characters and dialogue that could only be written by Leonard.Leonard was much more interested in writing about bad guys than good ones, at least until he created Raylan Givens, and he excelled at creating small-time crooks who lived on the margins and dreamed of making a big score. Frank Ryan and Ernest Stickly, Jr. are great examples, and this is a book that will appeal to virtually any fan of crime fiction.

  • Darwin8u
    2018-11-28 01:11

    "After the first few weeks he began to take it in stride. They were pros, that's why it was easy. They knew exactly what they were doing." - Elmore Leonard, SwagI've read several of Leonard's 90s crime novels (Get Shorty, Out of Sight, etc) but I was given Elmore Leonard's Four Novels of the 1970s for my birthday (thanks Keith) and decided to start with 'Swag'. It was great, gritty Detroit crime fiction. So, in honor of this novel, here are ten rules for Detroit hardboiled fiction:1. There needs to be a list of rules.2. There has to be multiple women.3. There has to be some racial tension.4. The book can't be longer than 250 pages5. Dialogue must be both funny and sharp.6. There needs to be several twists.7. Drugs and alcohol must be consumed or discussed.8. There has to be several exit ramps that are missed.9. Cars have to play a role, even if minor.10. All rules must eventually be broken.

  • R.K. Gold
    2018-11-28 00:23

    If you're looking for fast reads and entertainment, Leonard is your man. I was shocked by how quickly I finished Swag. For entertainment alone I'd give it five stars, the reason I am only giving it four is that it didn't have any emotional draw for me. It's not like I felt a connection with any of the characters, including during the (view spoiler)[betrayal (hide spoiler)] at the end. The plot rapidly progresses from moment of meeting between the two characters to the peak of their success to their ultimate undoing. So I'll say it again, if you're looking for a beach read during your getaway winter vacation, Leonard is a good place to start looking. RIP buddy

  • Lance Charnes
    2018-11-17 17:06

    We're so used to Elmore Leonard being an icon of modern crime fiction that it's hard to remember that back in the 1960s and 1970s he was just another genre author, more known for his Westerns than the crime novels he began turning out in 1969. It's even harder to remember that he didn't spring out of the ground fully-formed; he had to learn how to be Elmore Leonard. Swag, the third of his Detroit-based crime stories, is an example of Leonard in progress but not yet the king.Ernest "Stick" Stickley is a career petty criminal from Kentucky eking out a living in pre-apocalyptic Detroit. When he's caught boosting a car and the victim -- scumbag used-car salesman Frank Ryan -- gets him off the hook, the two decide to launch into a life of armed robbery following a set of "rules for success" Frank has worked up in one bar or another. It turns out Frank doesn't have a clue and manages to get the two of them wrapped up with some real criminals. Things go downhill in a hurry.By the time this book came out, Leonard had developed his trademark spare prose, though it's not as arid here as it will be later on. He shows a feel for the low-life life, the rhythms of the chronically underemployed, their vices and their attitudes. And his dialog has that sense of being reported rather than invented, as if the author had simply recorded these characters talking among themselves and was transcribing their own words. This much is the Leonard we now take for granted, and is the best part of this novel.Unfortunately, there are significant chunks of the Elmore Leonard style missing from Swag. For instance, we don't get the memorable characters. Stick, the closest thing to a protagonist in this tale, is a thin reed on which to hang this story; he's neither likable enough to be good company nor interesting enough to make up for it. While he's somewhat smarter than Frank, that's not much of an accomplishment, and he doesn't have an especially compelling backstory or set of goals for the future. Chili Palmer and Jack Foley, he ain't.There's not a whole lot to the plot, either. The whole middle of the book chronicles Stick's and Frank's adventures with armed robbery, which rapidly become repetitive. In that their favorite victims are grocery and liquor stores, and that it appears Detroit PD was no better in the '70s than it is today, the stakes are decidedly low. In between heists, they drink, toke, squabble and chase women. It's not until the last quarter that we get the kind of double-triple-crossing criminal stew we came to expect from Leonard, by which time it's almost beside the point.The novel is a product of its time. Nearly all the women are almost-interchangeable bed buddies for the stray men around Stick's and Frank's apartment complex, and all the white characters use more epithets for the black characters than many readers may have known existed (none of them complimentary). If you're younger than, say, me, you may not get the music and TV references. In many ways, reading Swag is like watching a 1970s cop movie, complete with low production values, faded colors and dust specks on the film.If you're new to Leonard, bypass this book and start with his post-Glitz products from the late 1980s and 1990s, when he was at the top of his game. If you've exhausted those and can't live without seeing the primordial Leonard, then come back here. If you never make it back to Swag, you'll not have missed much.

  • AC
    2018-11-29 19:18

    This was my first Elmore Leonard -- I wasn't expecting too much..., since he's so popular/successful, you mainly hear a lot of criticism about how lousy he is..., and the comparisons with James Ellroy worried me, since Ellroy - though I liked the two books I read - is, after all, more than a little artificial. But this was just a straightforward great read -- characters, plot-twists, utterly believable... It was a good book to start with.

  • Mark
    2018-12-09 16:58

    3.5. This one had great characterization but some of the hold-ups don't really, erm, hold-up nowadays; actually, I don't see how some of them would have held-up even at the time this was published in the mid-70s. They never covered their faces. I know most stores didn't have big time surveillance, but the employees and shop owners did have eyes. I picked this particular book to try out Leonard's work because out of all of his, and he has a lot, this one seemed to be a fan favorite. From a character point of view, I can see why. All the characters were uniquely themselves, but were still relatable. The problems arose w/ the plot. Still, I think I'll be checking out more of his work. Believe there's a novel called Stick that assuming gives us a further look at Ed Stickley. Not a bad idea, Mr. Leonard.

  • Mattia Ravasi
    2018-12-06 23:02

    #17 in my Top 20 Books I Read in 2015: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIWkw...This is how you write a thriller: gritty, brutally real, fun fun fun, and SHORT by God, the kind of book you can read during an afternoon on the beach and still have time for a swim and a game of beach volley. Leonard's up there with the very best.

  • Jim
    2018-11-20 01:01

    My daughters were horrified to see that I had a book entitled "Swag." A quick Google for current usage will explain.Leonard's "Swag" is a highly enjoyable crime buddy story, with snappy odd-couple dialog, and a few twists that carry on right to the last page.

  • Jason
    2018-12-09 21:09

    I may be on a Leonard kick for the rest of the Summer. It started with his most recent book, Road Dogs, which led me -- probably via an Amazon.com recommendation, to one of his first published crime stories. Set in Detroit, Swag is the first of what becomes a series of stories about a car thief turned armed robber named Stick. Stick is a cool guy and like most of Leonard's work, this story just moves.In fact, I was late to work one day this week because I got caught up in the last 3rd of the book and had to finish. That's usually a behavior I only reserve for Harry Potter and Fables trades. It's the dialogue and the shifting points of view that I enjoy the most. These are not characters filled to the brim with smarts or complex motivations. They are caught up in situations they don't want to be in or think they can control but they are never in control.They just don't know it until it's too late.When I return this to the library on Sunday, I believe I'll be replacing it with what I think is the next in the "Stick" stories, the appropriately titled—Stick. It was also a film starring Burt Reynolds.Swag is highly recommended but you knew that. Who doesn't like Elmore Leonard novels?

  • Bobbie Darbyshire
    2018-11-29 01:11

    I’m blown away by my first Elmore Leonard and must soon read another. On the face of it ‘Swag’ is a smallish story, sparely told, about two small-time crooks in 1970s Detroit, but Leonard’s subtle art makes it so much more. He trusts the reader to know what isn’t written – the laughs, the plot implications, the dilemmas, the deepening psychology. I found myself caring a lot for I-won’t-say-whom without once being told to care, Leonard’s methods are so unobtrusive. The characters are real, flawed, funny. The dialogue is to die for. The plot is clever but unforced. It had me gripped to the last, very satisfying line. As tight as a Greek tragedy. Bravo—and shucks! Elmore Leonard was my Facebook friend – I wish it wasn't too late to be the millionth to tell him what a master craftsman he is.

  • JamesLove
    2018-12-08 19:08

    The comedic stick-up team. The first names alone remind me of the newspaper comic strip Frank & Earnest. The fun starts with an Abbott and Costello style car theft. The line-up and arraignment hearing just continues the humorous story. This is the first appearance of Frank Ryan (Luke Wilson) and Ernest "Stick" Stickley (Burt Reynolds). I'm not sure if Frank is any relation to the Jack Ryan of The Big Bounce and The Unknown Man #89. They are obviously no relation to Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan.

  • Wayne Barrett
    2018-11-24 01:22

    I wouldn't call it great, but the story was good. One thing that is great though is Elmore's use of dialogue. The man is a master.

  • Marc Gerstein
    2018-12-07 23:18

    I’m not familiar with the crime fiction genre, so I can’t comment on it in those terms. But as an easy summertime book-club read, it works quite well. It starts out with Frank and Stick taking a very professional business-like approach to armed robbery, and it works well for them. But success brings its own challenges, mainly the temptation to try to move beyond that which has worked so well. A good deal of what follows is predictable but entertaining, but there’s a lot that’s not predictable and even more entertaining.

  • Elizabeth
    2018-12-04 23:22

    I picked this up not knowing it was written in 1976; the synopsis on the back is what made me take it home since I figured it was time I gave Leonard a try. I intended to buy "Get Shorty", I think, but the bookstore was sold out of it so I grabbed this instead. It was the synopsis that got me, but more than that it was the Boston Globe quote on the back describing Leonard's prose as being "lean and shifty," which is exactly what I wanted to take a loot at since I'm working on achieving the same kind of atmosphere in one of my current projects.At any rate, I had a great time with this book. I wanted to get a look at how real men act, think, and behave, both on the page and with one another. The dialogue between the main guys, Ryan and Stick, was entertaining, witty, and above all, it was real. I've heard that Leonard is a master at dialogue, and I would have to agree. I also enjoyed--although as I said, this wasn't something I anticipated--the time warp back to a period pre-dating cell phones, cars with automatic locks, and video cameras in every store, hallway, alleyway, and elevator. I think the total lack of instant communication made the tension so much higher for me, watching the players in action hoping and praying for nothing strange to mess up the heist, and of course, not to get caught.Would definitely recommend this book to others, whether crime fiction is your thing or not. Leonard is a terrific writer.

  • Tony
    2018-11-21 22:24

    SWAG. (1976). Elmore Leonard. ****.This is the second novel included in the recent volume from Library of America. We get to meet Ernest (Stick) and Frank, two low level hoods who decide to get into the business of armed robbery. It all works out very well at first, when they concentrate on grocery stores and liquor stores and similar targets. They average about $2,000 per week – more than they can spend. They decide that they can start moving up to bigger capers, and join up with a local gang to rob the world-famous Hudson store in downtown Detroit. The plan seemed foolproof, but you know how things go. Leonard manages to develop his humorous side in this novel, although the violence is still there. His hoods now come full of sayings and adages that they freely offer to each other and form the basis of their personalities. With our two characters in this story, we feel that we are private witnesses to a variety of criminal activities in the bud. We’d like to offer some advice to them, but we are forced to look on silently. Recommended.

  • Jamie
    2018-12-04 21:16

    I figured out the trick. I have to stop reading in the middle of a chapter if I’m going to put these books down at all. Otherwise, there’s no chance. Either it’s three o’clock in the morning and I’ve read the whole thing or it’s evening and last thing I knew it was noon. Earnest “Stick” Stickley Jr. and his partner in how to achieve success and happiness in armed robbery, Frank Ryan? Yes, please. All day long.

  • Stephen Arnott
    2018-11-16 23:09

    This is absolutely my favourite Elmore Leonard novel. One that also introduced me to what is now my favourite summer drink, 'The Salty Dog'.Other reviewers will have given you the gist of the story. All I'll add is that the ending will twist you around like you were made of rubber - it's incredible.

  • Trina
    2018-11-26 20:17

    I read this because the New York Review of Books had an interesting article about Leonard's writing. It was a relaxing pleasure to read -- two guys and a life of theft of grocery stores, etc. as a kind of job. I haven't read Elmore Leonard in a long time, and I really liked this. It was straightforward both in plot and writing, and was a great vacation book.

  • S.
    2018-11-19 17:56

    "Everybody had to be a smart-ass, get a laugh and make it look easy. It wore you out, thinking, just staying in a conversation."

  • Steve Greenleaf
    2018-11-11 21:08

    Elmore Leonard died about a month ago. I’d never read any of his books. But I’d learned a lot about them after he died. Appreciations of his writing appeared in the New York Times and in the New Yorker. I read these reviews. Based on these comments, I came to the conclusion that Leonard was a writer’s writer. Many people praised his style. His economy of style.In addition to reading all of these appreciations, I knew Leonard wrote about crime, and there is perhaps no better genre to enjoy than crime, police procedurals, detective novels, and mysteries. You learn a lot about the world, especially the underside. You’re also entertained most of the time. Based on the reviews I read and my appreciation of the genre, I decided to try a Leonard book. I read Swag.My choice did not disappoint me. Swag is about two guys who decide to go into the business of armed robbery. Leonard’s portrayal of the two main characters is pretty much flawless. Each has about half a set of brains, and together they don’t quite make a whole. But for a while, they’re on a run. Leonards’s spare and direct style works perfectly to portray the mentality of the main protagonists. Complications occur when a bright detective, a bright prosecutor, and a dame get involved in the proceedings. And greed. And love. Having represented a lot of criminal defendants in my time, I can only think of a couple who were genuinely bright. And at least once I represented a wiseguy and his saner, quieter partner. You can see the trouble that someone is headed toward when bluster and bravado are supposed replace thought and judgment. Based on my experience, Leonard seems to have encountered these types of guys as well, because he captures their character and ethos so well. Leonard doesn’t criticize his characters or paint them to be anything than other than what they are. A pair of guys who generate some sympathy along the way even as you see them blunder deeper down the rabbit hole.If you enjoy crime writing at all, then I’d have a hard time thinking that you wouldn’t enjoy this Elmore Leonard novel written in the 1970s. Leonard wrote and published up to the time of his death, and there’s a large body of it I’ve yet to read. This work is different from a mystery or detective novel, because the main protagonists are the criminals and not the “good guys”. He gets into the heads of these guys as well as I can imagine anyone doing, and that’s no small accomplishment. Good style or not.

  • Frank
    2018-12-08 19:59

    So this is where Tarantino found his inspiration! A good read. Often it doesn’t feel like a crime novel so much as like one of those low-key dirty realist novels by authors like Frederick Barthelme, about people with humdrum lives to whom nothing much exciting happens (which is exactly what makes those books feel so realist!) – except that this is about two guys who are on an armed robbery spree. It has everything Leonard is always praised for: very good, very lifelike dialogue, which seeps into the narrative text in well-judged doses by his brilliant use of free indirect speech, very light, almost lackadaisical plotting (which is a very dangerous thing to do, because this too makes the narrative feel more realist, but if you don’t get the balance right the story loses its point: why tell it, if there’s nothing to tell?). And because the two start out with a list of ten rules they have to adhere to, variously called the Ten Commandments or the ten rules for succes, it’s also a bit of a parody on the standard American self help handbook.And Leonard is also very good on the weird bromance of these two guys who decide to throw in their lot with each other: it’s not quite the odd couple (the humour is much more subdued), but the little frictions do remind us (and remind the characters themselves) of a long marriage.And I guess now I also know where Tarantino got some of his ideas, like that of a hold-up of a bar being foiled by the armed criminals who are more dangerous than the actual stick-up guy (the opening of Pulp Fiction). Or criminals having totally irrelevant conversations while they’re waiting for the shootup they know is about to take place. Here they’re waiting in a gym before going to a meeting they already know will end in violence:'It might not be a bad idea,' Frank said. 'Work out two, three times a week, get some steam or a sauna.''I could never do pushups and all that shit,' Stick said. 'I don't know, it sounds good, but it's so fucking boring. The thing to do, just don't eat so much.''I don't eat much,' Frank said.'You drink too much. You know how many calories are in a shot? What you put away, those doubles, it's a couple of full meals.''What do you do, count my drinks?''I can't,' Stick said. 'I can't count that fast.'

  • wally
    2018-11-13 17:16

    136 reviews...this will be 137. i've read 45 stories from leonard, not all he has written...i will read all of them give me time...and i read this one earlier this year, back in february and now it is december...the 18th...about 8 degrees outside on the f-scale...we've had close to 60" of snow this winter and the sun is shining...doesn't happen much or not near enough. so...you read...take the vitamin d. leonard is good for what ails you on a cold grey (okay, so the sun is out today)...if the phone would not ring...someone trying to sell me something...that or someone with the final offer...that they've been offering now for about three four years. should i take them up on it?this one is for janedunno who she is...dunno much about leonard the man...story stars:there was a photograph of frank in an ad that ran in the detroit free press and showed all the friendly salesmen at red bowers chevrolet. under his photo it said frank j. ryan. he had on a nice smile, a styled mustache, and a summer-weight suit made out of that material that's shiny and looks like it has snags in it.heh! yeah, you know what he's talking about...dacron or something snazzy like that. shiny. story continues:there was a photograph of stick on file at 1300 beaubien, detroit police headquarters. under the photo it said ernest stickley, jr., 89037. he had on a sport shirt that had sailboats and palm trees on it. he'd bought it in pompano beach, florida.a flavor, anyway...leonard writes good stories and more often than not i find something or more to laugh about...maybe it is the wording of a sentence, like the above about the suit...maybe i recognize myself in the telling...wondering why everyone has to be so serious all the time...listening to npr lately...i like the sound of the female voice that comes on and tell us who is bringing it to us...midwest i wonder? telemarketers..they're on my mind...i know that phone will ring soon...two rings and the machine picks up...they don't say anything...unless they need to pad their numbers in which case the computer begins to bleat.good read...check it out. onward and upward.

  • T.J.
    2018-11-19 21:17

    To explain my rating on this one I have to explain where my head was at. Firstly, I downloaded a book I'd already read, and only realised it when I was about a third the way through. But that's OK because for me, Elmore Leonard is like my favourite milkshake, I might have had vanilla malt yesterday, but that doesn't stop me wanting vanilla malt today.I should have realised it quicker, from the set up, which sees a used car salesman with criminal leanings watch as a car gets stolen from his car lot, then approaches the thief to propose to him they team up to make some real money. Which they do.What kept me reading, even though I've read it before, was the relationship between the mismatched couple, which starts badly and gets worse. Swag was written in 1976 but it has all the right ingredients; dumb criminals, crooked cops, smart ladies and a twist at the end you have to read two or three times to be sure you got it all worked out.Plus that fantastic way Leonard has of throwing in small bits of conversation which may add nothing to the plot, but tell you everything you need to know about the characters. No matter how tense or how high the stakes, just like normal people, they can still find time to argue about boring, banal things, like where to park the damn getaway car.But I started the book, got distracted and just left it for about two months. And I have to ask myself, why? Because I already read it? No, I was enjoying it again. It's a great story. But I think I walked away because no matter how much I love Elmore Leonard, Swag hits a plot dead end about 4/5ths the way through. When I got back into it, I realised it's like Leonard decides he's had enough, it's time to wind the story up and suddenly inside the last 20 pages it's all over, but not in the most satisfying way.And because he's a great crime writer, all his books have to be measured up against the best of his books, so this one only got 3 stars from me.No doubt I'll read it again tho! Maybe even on purpose.TJ

  • Taylor Hensel
    2018-12-09 20:59

    Every time I think I've found my favorite Elmore Leonard novel, I read another and fall head over heels in love with that one. I've been slowly but surely working my way through Dutch's library since I was 16--I'm 23 now--and I've knocked out about 11 volumes so far, this being No. 11. Prior to reading "Swag," I thought my favorite was "Glitz," but now I'm not so sure. "Swag" is by far the cleanest, most exciting, and by far the funniest Leonard novel I've ever read. Why Hollywood hasn't latched onto this bad boy is a mystery to me. Set in the 1970s, "Swag" tells the story of Frank Ryan and Ernest "Stick" Stickley, Jr., a used car salesman and car thief respectively who decide to team up and commit a series of armed robberies throughout the greater Detroit area. To ensure success in their new vocation, they follow Ryan's "10 Rules for Success and Happiness," which instruct the reader how to be a successful stick-up man. Things are going well for the modern-day Butch and Sundance, until Frank starts getting cocky and breaking his own rules. Hijinks ensue. The reason I love Elmore Leonard is that he has always written fast, action-packed books that are grounded by some seriously great writing. I've heard Leonard's prose described as "street-poetry," and that is certainly exemplified here. There are far too many great lines for me to name them all, but my personal favorite has to be, "And then when they realized the didn't anything more to do, they decided to go ahead and rob the liquor store." Such a simple line, and yet the beauty lies in the simplicity. The rest of the praise you've probably all heard before: great dialogue, great characters, pretty much everything you could want in a novel. Pick this one up for a hi-octane, funny, well-written romp through 1970s Detroit, and see what happens when Frank and Ernest--get it?--start breaking their own rules for collecting the maximum amount of swag.

  • Jenny Vaughan
    2018-11-20 18:59

    SPOILER ALERT! The only way that I could bring this book to life in my mind was to imagine that I was watching a Quentin Tarantino movie. "Swag" is quick and readable, and nothing that I would have ever picked up without the impetus of my book club. I'm glad I read it, though, if only for the exposure to something new and different. It's very sleazeball seventies, and full of characters that I could never in a million years relate to. Except Stick, of course, and I say of course because I assume that he is meant to be the emotional center of the book. He is an accidental killer completely oblivious to his heart of gold, and I can't figure out why he won't just go home to his little girl like he keeps thinking about doing. This is the question that makes the book interesting - why is Stick a criminal? Is it lack of imagination? Falling in with the wrong crowd? Stagflation? Does he simply lack confidence in his own moral center? He doesn't belong in this criminal world, and deep down he knows it, yet he's unable to articulate something so at odds with the values held by everyone around him. There is a poignant juxtaposition between the effortless ease with which he steals cars and robs gas stations and his puppydog willingness to follow Frank's lead, and his own, barely acknowledged dissatisfaction with the pursuit of the good life that drives his partner. He almost, almost achieves revelation, almost, almost realizes that he's on the wrong path, almost, almost finds himself enough to trust his own inner compass.And...well, let me just stop there lest I impose literature on Leonard. Suffice to say that even if I was trying too hard to find it, "Swag" turned out to offer a lot more than what you typically find in the grocery store check-out line.

  • Amy
    2018-11-28 17:19

    A used car salesman and a small-time car thief decide to team up and give armed robbery a try. What could possibly go wrong? As with so many Elmore Leonard novels, this one is so perfectly conceived and so laugh-out-loud funny that I couldn't believe it hadn't already been made into a movie. I kept trying to cast it: William H. Macy and Chris Cooper? Matt Damon and...uh...well, you work on that, and I'll work on the drink.The drink choice is easy: it has to be a Salty Dog, a simple little drink that is not only consumed frequently in this novel, but also plays a critical role in one of the funniest scenes. (Hint: it's the shower scene.)A Salty Dog is nothing but gin and grapefruit juice, served over ice with salt on the rim (omit the salt and it's called a Greyhound). It's an easy drink to mix in large quantities for a pool party, which is how our small-time criminals do it. So I'll give you that recipe, but I'll also give you a far superior variation that is also very simple to make.Salty Dog1.5 oz gin or vodka3 oz grapefruit juiceSaltMoisten the rim of a glass with grapefruit juice, and dip in salt. Fill the glass with ice, add gin and grapefruit juice, and stir vigorously.Even Better Than a Salty Dog (when I made this at a party for librarians, I called it the Dewey Decimal. Call it whatever you like.)1 oz gin1 oz Lillet blanc1.5 oz freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice, and I mean FRESHShake over ice, and pour into a short tumbler filled with crushed ice. Garnish with grapefruit peel. And feel free to play around with the proportions in this one to get it just the way you like it.

  • Don Massenzio
    2018-12-12 00:06

    Swag was a turning point in Elmore Leonard's writing. The plot was a bit more complicated than his past books. There were more characters. The language and violence was a bit rougher. The book had a more complex middle than any of his works with a suitable number of twists and turns. The story follows two men that form an armed robbery duo. They rob a number of businesses without ever hurting anyone. When they become mixed up in a big score, they discover that they are being conned by the others they brought in to help them. What this novel has in common with other Leonard novels is that we don't get to find out what happens to the characters at the end. The story ends before their fate with the law is determined. Leonard does have a crossover character from a previous work, Leon Woody. Strangely enough, Woody was a companion to Jack Ryan in an earlier book and Frank Ryan in this book. Leonard even points out the earlier Ryan character and states that they are not related. This is an interesting piece of information considering that his next novel revives the Jack Ryan character.Overall, this was a good read.

  • Noah Vickstein
    2018-12-02 17:24

    It's a shame I didn't write reviews for many of the books I've read shortly after reading them, but I'll try to remember my impressions.This was a great, fun read written in the freewheeling style I imagine is endemic to the author. The word 'Swag' is used only once, and then at the end. It retains its classic informal meaning of stolen goods.The book is essentially about an unlikely alliance formed between two men turned smalltime crooks. It's witty. It's interesting. And the dialogue and character interactions are a cut above your typical crime drama (I'm looking at you Mr. Patterson). Raw and unapologetic, this book deals with questions regarding human greed. It's also very short. Recommended.Best scene is in the bar that gets held up. A man pulls out a shotgun and robs the establishment along with everyone present. The two anti-heroes, who, moments earlier, had been about to do the same, allow the robbery to take place and then proceed to hold-up the man doing the hold up.

  • Pat
    2018-11-28 18:14

    I read an Elmore Leonard whenever I need a book with hometown flavor. This particular Leonard gem, Swag, is especially satisfying. Leonard's characters cruise the streets you've cruised, and encounter people you've met. The premise: car salesman Frank Ryan teams up with Oklahoma cement worker and car thief Ernest Stickley ("Stick") to live the high life, via armed robbery. Frank is the one whose carefully crafted rules allow them to live in luxury, but it's Frank's deviation from the rules that brings about the duo's downfall. The book is a provocative portrait, warts and all, of pre-recession Detroit: before the auto industry collapsed entirely, when Hudson's still had its downtown flagship department store, and before crack infected the streets of the city.A fun read for times when you don't want to have to think too much!