Goodbye, Dutch. And thank you.

August 20, 2013 § Leave a comment

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I got the news via Twitter, because that’s how bad news finds us these days. That’s how the worst news always seems to find us; a gut punch sandwiched between trivialities.

Elmore Leonard has died.

There isn’t much I can say about “Dutch” that hasn’t already been said around the world. I mean, it’s not like I’d ever met the man in person. But I loved him like an uncle—the good kind of uncle who tells you dirty jokes when your parents are out of earshot and gives you sips of his beer before you’re old enough. The uncle who always tells the best stories.

Elmore Leonard could really tell stories, that’s for sure. Even if you’ve never read one of his books, I’d bet good money you’ve heard some of his stories. Maybe you watch Justified, the show featuring Leonard’s character Raylan Givens and a host of others; most episodes come straight from Dutch’s books and short stories (Pronto, Riding the Rap, and his latest, Raylan.) Maybe you saw Get Shorty, with John Travolta, based on Dutch’s book of the same name. Perhaps it was Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown, based on the novel Rum Punch. Or Out of Sight, with George Clooney, based on the book of the same name. About 30 of Dutch’s books and short stories have been adapted to film or television.

Maybe you know of him because of his 10 Rules of Writing.

This is getting long. I didn’t mean for it to get long.

All I really want to say is that Elmore Leonard was an exceptional writer. He influenced me more than any other, and I always eagerly looked forward to his next novel, his next great story, his next unforgettable character speaking his inimitable “lowlife dialogue.” And knowing there won’t be any more makes me incredibly sad.

Thanks for everything, Mr. Leonard. There is simply no other writer who is your equal.

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