One of the best-known contemporary American writers has died. The New York Times reports that the prolific crime novelist Elmore Leonard died today at his home in Bloomfield, Mich. Leonard was 87.
His work has been adapted into many film projects over the years, and is the basis of the current FX series "Justified." Other well-known works by Leonard include "Get Shorty," "Out of Sight" and "Rum Punch," which became "Jackie Brown" on the big screen.
Early in his career Leonard wrote Westerns, and his short stories have become films including "3:10 to Yuma" and "The Tall T."
Other novels by Leonard have included “Freaky Deaky,” “Glitz” and “La Brava.”
"To his admiring peers, Mr. Leonard did not merely validate the popular crime thriller; he stripped the form of its worn-out affectations, reinventing it for a new generation and elevating it to a higher literary shelf," Marilyn Stasio writes in the New York Times obituary.
She adds: "Reviewing ‘Riding the Rap’ for The New York Times Book Review in 1995, Martin Amis cited Mr. Leonard’s ‘gifts — of ear and eye, of timing and phrasing — that even the most indolent and snobbish masters of the mainstream must vigorously covet.’ As the American chapter of PEN noted, when honoring Mr. Leonard with its Lifetime Achievement award in 2009, his books ‘are not only classics of the crime genre, but some of the best writing of the last half-century.’”
Asked why he continued in his 80s to turn out a book a year, Leonard is quoted as saying: “It’s fun.”
"It was in that spirit that Mr. Leonard, at 84, took more than a casual interest in the development of one of his short stories, ‘Fire in the Hole,’ for television," Stasio writes. “’Justified,’ as the FX series was called, won a Peabody Award in 2011 in its second season and sent new fans to ‘Pronto’ (1993) and ‘Riding the Rap’ (1995), two novels that feature the series’ hero, Raylan Givens (played by Timothy Olyphant), a federal marshal from Harlan Country, Ky., who presents himself as a good ol’ country boy but is ‘not as dumb as you’d like to believe.’
"Approving of the way the show was working out, Mr. Leonard wrote his 45th novel, ‘Raylan,’ with the television series in mind. Published in 2012, it featured three strong female villains and gave its cowboy hero license to shoot one of them."
Leonard was hospitalized after suffering a stroke July 29, as we reported previously.