When the Women Come Out to Dance is a collection of short stories by Elmore Leonard (author of Get Shorty and Out of Sight). The description states that each story features a “strong female character in trouble”, and this is for the most part true. There are a couple stories where the woman character is the impetus for the story, but not the main character in it, and one story where there are no women characters at all. This is just a minor quibble. The true reason for this collection to exist is to showcase Leonard’s talent for creating likeable characters and crackling dialog.
Women includes nine stories, some previously published and some unpublished until now. As you can expect with a collection such as this, some stories are stronger than others. For example, the two longest stories (almost long enough to count as novellas), “Fire in the Hole” and “Tenkiller” are two of the best. Also included is a story called “Karen Makes Out” featuring the Karen Sisco, star of the book/movie Out of Sight and television show Karen Sisco. It deals with a brief fling Karen has with a guy who may or may not be a bank robber. This is probably my favorite story in the whole collection.
Stories like “Hanging Out at the Buena Vista” and the title story “When the Women Come Out to Dance” while good, didn’t quite capture my imagination the way the others did.
A must for fans of Elmore Leonard. If you haven't read Elmore, they are a microcosm of his work: memorable characters definded in few words, dialogue that is snappier than just about anyone ever, abundant humor. Cool.
Update (1/16/2011): Since the collection came out, the story "Fire in the Hole" became the inspiration for the TV show Justified (not to mention the basis for the pilot episode). I've reread a couple of the stories, but not the whole collection. It's a nice way to get a quick hit of Elmore Leonard before getting on with your business.
Posted on the old blog 8/16/2005.