From Easy to Elmore

Words are the finest invention that human beings have ever made. They build bridges and burn ’em down. Glue or acid, that’s what the words you say will be. But you got to be careful. Sometimes you might have both parts at the same time. You got to watch out, because some words will at first pull somebody close and then turn him against you in time.

— Walter Mosley, Little Green

I was all set to write about Little Green. Written by Walter Mosley (perhaps my favorite author) about the latest adventures of Easy Rawlins (my favorite literary character) as he, once again, tries to figure out what’s going on in the underbelly of Los Angeles (my favorite city). And then, Elmore Leonard died.

Leonard, like Mosley, tells stories that feel alive with characters that feel real in worlds I believe I could go to or that might exist. Human beings in their yarns act like human beings. They talk in real ways.With Mosley and Leonard, their writing doesn’t sound like writing.

I’ve written here before about lessons Elmore has shared about writing. If Easy is my favorite character of books, Leonard’s Karen Sisco is probably my second. And, Timothy Olyphant’s version of Raylan Givens on Justified is my favorite television character today.

So, while my intention was to tell you how much I enjoyed Little Green in detail, it feels more important and pressing to tell you that Elmore Leonard matters to me.

Little Green was good. You should read it. I, however, am going to read Three-Ten to Yuma and Other Stories. I own the soundtrack for the 2007 film but have neither seen the movie nor read many of Leonard’s westerns.

Let’s see how inventive the premier crime novelist is with those kinds of words.


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