Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Leonard served in the U.S. Navy upon graduating high school and later graduated from the University of Detroit with an English degree. He got his start in professional writing as an advertising copy writer in the early 1950s, as he wrote fiction on the side. He had some early success in the western genre, garnering his first publishing credit in 1951 with the short story “Trail of the Apaches.” One of his earliest western stories, “Three-Ten to Yuma,” has twice been adapted for film: shortly after publication, in 1957, and again fifty years later, in 2007.
Eventually Leonard also found success in crime fiction, for which he has become primarily known. He was hailed for his distinctive writing style, which was highly realistic and fast paced, and particularly his penchant for writing fantastic dialogue. Stephen King called him “the great American writer.” The strenuous writing routine he established in his formative years stuck with him throughout his career, and age didn’t dim his love for crafting stories. His researcher Gregg Sutter confirmed that Mr. Leonard was working on his 46th novel when he suffered a stroke three weeks ago.
As well known as his fiction are the screen adaptations made from them, with 3:10 to Yuma being just one example. The 1995 film Get Shorty was one of the first to truly adhere to Leonard’s style of quick pace and snappy dialogue, and his work garnered even more attention in 1997 when his story “Rum Punch” was adapted by Quentin Tarantino into the movie Jackie Brown. The FX TV series Justified got its start in the short story “Fire in the Hole,” and Leonard got such a kick out of it that he wrote a new novel, Raylan, in 2012 to feature the main character, U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens. The newest adaptation, Life of Crime (based on the 1978 novel The Switch), stars Jennifer Aniston, Tim Robbins, Mos Def, and Isla Fisher, and will premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.
SmartBrowse Elmore Leonard on our homepage for a full list of his work offered by Midwest Tape, in both audiobook and DVD format.