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Elmore Leonard Dead at 87

By Dustin Rowles | Miscellaneous | August 20, 2013 | Comments ()


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Elmore Leonard, one of the 20th Century’s best and most prolific novelists (and one of the most cinematic), has died from complications due to a stroke. He was 87. He’s had 26 novels and short stories adapted for the screen over his career, including Jackie Brown, Out of Sight, Get Shorty and 3:10 to Yuma. FX’s “Justified” is also based on the work of Elmore Leonard. (The short-lived series “Karen Sisco” was also based on Leonard’s character from Out of Sight).

If you’re a reader of Leonard’s, you’re also familiar with his punishing, efficient prose. The man could write an engrossing, entertaining novel you could read in a single sitting in the morning, and pick up another Leonard novel before bed.

Leonard was 87, and he obviously lived a nice, long life, but the literary world has lost a great one, and booksellers are losing one of the best reasons to buy a book.

R.I.P. Elmore Leonard. May the afterlife look like Steven Soderbergh’s version of Detroit.



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  • Sean

    Very sad. One of the best things about living here in the Detroit area was Leonard. When you are sitting in a restaurant by yourself reading an Elmore Leonard novel...and you look over, and the guy two tables over IS Elmore Leonard, well that is a good day. I met him a few other times as well. He was always gracious and friendly with fans. A hell of a run.

  • MissAmynae

    well, crap. RIP, sir.

  • Semilitterate

    A master of dialogue and blessed brevity without leaving anything out. Fer instance, "Get Shorty", one of my favorite movies, was lifted almost whole from the book. It just couldn't be improved upon by any Hollywood "Screenwriter"

  • Don Juan de Markup

    Elmore Leonard's rules for writing.

    3. Never use a verb other than ''said'' to carry dialogue.

    Ring Lardner:

    "Shut up" he explained.

    That said I lived in Detroit while he was doing some of his best writing and I was working a job where I met archetypal Elmore Leonard characters on a daily basis, dirty cops, tattooed Albanian mobsters, murderous gang bangers, ruthless drug dealers and lawyers that were shot in the head and left in car trunks at the airport in 3 separate events. He wrote every character note perfectly.

  • Wrestling Fan

    I don't know which one, but I plan on grabbing a book of his off my shelf and reading it today.

    We have lost a true master.

  • logan

    I always loved his books and the movies made from them. Was always proud that he lived in Michigan as I do.

  • F'mal DeHyde

    I spent many hours enjoying Mr Leonard's writing, I was saddened to hear of his passing although he did have a very long life.

  • Nooooo!

  • Afferbeck

    I thought I recognised the name, I have been making my way merrily through Justified lately. I shall have to pick up some of his books. RIP

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Had a great ear for dialogue. The Times' obit linked to his advice for writers:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2001/07...

    here's an excerpt for Mrs. Julien:
    I have a character in one of my books tell how she used to write historical romances ''full of rape and adverbs.''

  • Mrs. Julien

    Mostly, they are full of "_______ tenderness".

    - rough tenderness
    - fierce tenderness
    - mesozoic tenderness

    You get the idea.

  • Mrcreosote

    A damn shame. The man could write a hero, a villain, a love interest and most difficult a two bit sleazebag and make them all interesting.

  • Ian Fay

    It's a testament to his talent that despite his rather insane profilic nature, I've never not enjoyed the hell out of a single one of his stories or novels.

    Many authors as successful as he is often suffer from book bloat (looking at your, Stephen King and JK Rowling), but his books were always just as long as they needed to be, and never ballooned just because the author was too famous for an editor.

  • Slim

    Amen. A true writer who wrote because he can't *not* write.

  • RIP good buddy

  • dizzylucy

    That's so sad.
    I was always a casual fan of his work, but Justified made me really appreciate his uniqueness as a writer.

  • John W

    R.I.P.

  • Damn, RIP. Glad he stuck around long enough to see Raylan Givens brought to life in the best possible way.

    Also, Get Shorty turned lethal of late. Farina, Gandolfini, and now Leonard.

  • Mrs. Julien

    Has anyone checked on Yayo?

    ETA: He's okay and working steadily.

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