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My books can be purchased as e-books for only $1.99. If interested, just click here: Books.
Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life in the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
In case anyone is interested in any of my past posts, an archive list can be found at the bottom of this page.
My newest novel, Happy Valley, can be found here.

Monday, August 26

Elmore Leonard

Elmore Leonard is gone. He’s just the last in string of writers I admire who will pen no more—John D. MacDonald, Dick Francis, Robert B. Parker, Ed McBain. Dutch Leonard was a winner. I remember gobbling up his novels like popcorn. And so many were made into great movies that starred people who went on to bigger things: Burt Reynolds in Stick, who could con his way out of anything; Charles Bronson in Mr. Majestyk, who could whip anyone that got in his way; John Travolta and Gene Hackman in Get Shorty; George Clooney in Out of Sight; Travolta again in Be Cool; Paul Newman in Hombre, one of the best westerns of all time; and Russell Crowe and Christian Bale in 3:10 to Yuma. In looking back in my journals, I found this that I’d written over ten years ago, right after finishing Be Cool:

“What am I going to do when old Dutch drops dead? I guess I’ll have to go back and reread him. After all, 32 novels so far, nowhere near John D., but still enough that I might have forgotten most of what I read up to ten years ago. And the way my memory is going, I’ll be able to hide my own Easter eggs any year now. As though I’m ever going to run out of things to read. If I spent the rest of my life rereading nothing but the books by MacDonald, McBain, and Leonard, I’m not sure I’d have the time. The three of them have written over 250 books.”

I and your millions of fans are going to miss you, Dutch.

Something else I found in an old journal:

“In the first few pages of one of Parker’s Sunny Randall novels, a character, responding to an inquiry about his health, said he was 'same-o, same-o,' and I cheered to think that finally someone had supported what I’ve said for years, that it was never 'same old, same old.' I first learned that expression when I was in Korea and it was the response from Korean chogie boys, who meant 'same, same.' "

And while I’m at it, here’s another literary snippet from the past:

The Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst is a remarkably well-written book, about a man whose wife has just been killed by falling from a high apple tree. The only witness to the tragedy was their dog Lorelei. So the man embarks on a project in which he will teach his dog how to talk, to let him know what he needs to know about his wife’s death. A few notable quotables:

“I was thirty-nine when I met Lexy. Before that, I was married for many years to a woman whose voice filled our house like a thick mortar, sealing every crack and corner. Maura, this first wife of mine, spoke so much while saying so little that I sometimes felt as if I were drowning in the heavy paste of her words.”

“All this to say: I am forty-three years old. I may yet live another forty. What do I do with those years? How do I fill them without Lexy? When I come to tell the story of my life, there will be a line, creased and blurred and soft with age, where she stops. If I win the lottery, if I father a child, if I lose the use of my legs, it will be after she has finished knowing me. ‘When I get to Heaven,’ my grandmother used to say, widowed at thirty-nine, ‘your grandfather won't even recognize me.’ ”

“How can it be, I wondered, that we can be lying in bed next to a person we love wholly and helplessly, a person we love more than our own breath, and still ache to think of the one who caused us pain all those years ago? It's the betrayal of this second heart of ours, its flesh tied off like a fingertip twined tightly round with a single hair, blue-tinged from lack of blood. The shameful squeeze of it.”

“I sing of a woman with ink on her hands and pictures hidden beneath her hair. I sing of a dog with skin like velvet pushed the wrong way.I sing of the shape a fallen body makes in the dirt beneath a tree, and I sing of an ordinary man who is wanted to know things no human being could tell him. This is the true beginning.”

Through a series of flashbacks we learn more about the woman he married, this Lexy who made fabulous papier-mache masks in her basement. I can feel the depth of the man’s despair, trying to piece out the puzzle of his wife’s odd fall from the apple tree. I can empathize with his feelings for his dear sweet Lorelei, the dog who had to have his larynx removed in order to tell his master exactly what had happened to his wife.

What an unusual story and one that I recommend highly.

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