The Belligerent Spambot

Elmore Leonard, RIP

The New York Times has one of many obituaries.

I've read three of his novels: The Hunted, Killshot, and Bandits, in that order. Bandits was a book on tape, and I wonder if that has anything to do with the fact that I liked it a bit less than the other two. But I thought they were all outstanding. It was a good twenty-five years ago that I read The Hunted, yet I remember it in considerable detail, far more than is usual with me--frequently I forget everything but the broad outline of a plot within a few years. I think the reason is the sheer intensity of the storytelling. I don't know of any writer who can create the narrative tension that he does. Well, no, there is one, or at least one book: Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men. And the compliment I paid that book was that it's as good as Elmore Leonard.

But I'm not sure I'll ever read anything else by him. The morally vacant world he portrays is so bleak and disturbing that it's not a place I want to visit very often, perhaps never again. I wouldn't say that Leonard's own point of view is amoral; quite the contrary, in fact. But his portrayal of the other is maybe too vivid.

Any writer who wants to learn how to construct a gripping story, and dialog for inarticulate characters, could learn a whole lot from him. And if you want to read a thriller, I can vouch for any of the three above-named. On the basis of those, I'd call him a genius of the style.


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I've never read any Leonard, but I loved the 'Maximum Bob' miniseries that was on in the late 90's. I'm patiently waiting for it to show up on DVD sometime.

Didn't see that, but I'm now intrigued by what I've read about the TV series Justified, which Leonard was connected. Can't remember now whether he was directly involved, but one of the obits I read said he was very pleased with it, and it's gotten good reviews. You might want to check that out. I'd seen ads for it but who pays attention to ads for TV shows?

I feel a bit as if I'm leading people into something maybe they shouldn't be led into, but anybody who likes things like The Wire would probably like Leonard's novels. (Looking at you, Grumpy :-))

Sounds like I might have to try at least one of those books, Maclin.

Great interview with leonard on fresh air tonight. sorry phone won't do caps on the blog.

I think those are online for a week or so. I'll see if I can find it. Thanks.

I checked the first season of Justified out of the library recently. I found it bleak, though at first the bleakness was relieved by a few of the characters, mostly I think because the dialogue was well written and delivered. But that didn’t do enough to offset the really bad “others,” at least, not for me, and I was glad when all the episodes were over.

Anything based on Elmore Leonard's work would need to have at least a lot of bleak in it. Those 'really bad "others"' you're referring to are a big part of the reason why I feel a bit hesitant about recommending him.

What I want to know is how he can write with such utter and convincing confidence about hit men and other assorted criminals. Is it just a tour de force of imagination, or does he actually know what they're like? And if the latter, how did he learn? Apparently I'm never going to forget the two killers in Killshot, one a professional and one a lunatic, equally plausible, equally scary. How does he do that?!?

You neef to hear the intetview. :-)


Here it is. I hope to have a chance to listen to it sometime this weekend.

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