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Tuesday, 20 August 2013

R.I.P. Elmore Leonard - dies, 87

Elmore Leonard, novelist and screenwriter, has been the inspiration for many writers. He authored  45 novels, and was in the process of writing his 46th.

Born in New Orleans in 1925, he lived in Dallas, Oklahoma City and Memphis before his family settled in Detroit in 1935. He served in the US Navy during WWII and afterwards studied English literature at the University of Detroit, graduating in 1950. From 1949 to 1961 he worked as a copywriter in various advertising agencies and, apart from a few book reviews, he has concentrated on writing novels and screenplays since 1967. He started out writing western stories before turning to crime fiction in the 1960s.
He was renowned for his terse, no-nonsense style and sparse use of dialogue, stating at one time that he left out the bits that readers would skip.

Much of his work found its way onto the silver screen, for example: Last Stand at Sabre River (19590, Hombre (1961), Valdez is Coming (1970), 3.10 to Yuma (a 1953 short story, filmed in 1957 and 2007), Get Shorty (1990), Rum Punch (1992, filmed as Jackie Brown), and Out of Sight (1996).
One of his more heroic characters, US Marshal Raylan Givens in the books Pronto (1993) and Riding the Gap (1995), inspired the TV series Justified, while his 1978 novel The Switch was filmed this year as Life of Crime.

His 10 Rules of Writing, published in 2001,contains some tongue-in-cheek advice but also some great common sense and salutary admonishments, viz: "Never open a book with weather" and "Keep your exclamation points under control".
He has many writing accolades: the Edgar Allan Poe Award for best mystery novel, La Brava, 1983. In 1992 he was named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America. The F Scott Fitzgerald was awarded in 2008, the PEN USA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009 and a further lifetime achievement prize, which he received at last year's National Book Awards.

He suffered a stroke earlier this month in Detroit and was in hospital. He subsequently died at his home in the city's Bloomfield Village suburb. He is survived by five children, 12 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren; he divorced his third wife Christine last year.

Another great and influential writer bites the dust, but his words and characters live on.


Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

A great loss - I love his westerns though have not read as many of his crime books as I should. I plan to remedy that.

Nik said...

Yes, indeed, Gary. I think his sense of humour made him popular, not just his terse writing style.