Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Today Is Elmore Leonard Day
(I Hope You Remembered To Wear Your Gun)

The press often refers to Elmore Leonard as the 'Dickens of Detroit,' but me, I've always referred to him as my favorite writer. An according-to-Hoyle genius when it comes to dialogue, he possesses the unique ability to leave out rambling character descriptions and superfluous setting details while still painting a complete picture in his readers' heads. His secret seems to be the way in which he writes small talk. By allowing his characters the time and space needed to postulate on all manner of pop culture minutia, Leonard tricks his readers into imagining all of the missing adjectives. How does a two page conversation about actor Warren Oates create a vivid mental image of a knuckled-headed millionaire wearing a wrinkled Polo shirt and a smarter-than-he-looks crook sipping rum through a stirring straw? I don't know, but Leonard does it.
Quentin Tarantino credits Leonard with having 'taught him how to write.' I blame him for stealing countless hours -- nay, days -- of my life. In anticipation of the release of Elmore Leonard's new novel Up In Honey's Room (William Morrow, 292 pages), we're devoting every link today to praising his good name. Hallelujah, Dutch.

Up In Honey's Room: The AP Review & A Taste For You
Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing
Charlie Rose Interviews Leonard and Martin Amis