Leornard’s Legacy

Remembering Elmore Leornard

When I first became interesting in the writings of Elmore Leornard, I had a hard time finding his books in the bookstore because I could not get his name straight. I was always looking for a man named Leornard Elmore…and I was perusing the Literature section instead of Crime Fiction or Mystery, which is where you will usually find this writer’s works. It took a long time to get used to the idea that his last name was actually Leornard.

Devoted to Detroit

Perhaps one of the most interesting things noted about the late author is his dedication to the city of Detroit. Though born in the “Big Easy”, Leornard spent most of his life in and around the Motor City. He attended high school in the city and also graduated from the University of Detroit in 1950 with a degree in English philosophy. Even after Elmore Leornard became successful, he chose to live in one o Detroit’s more modern suburbs, Bloomfield Hills. No wonder Leornard is often referred to as the “Dickens of Detroit”.

My Experience With the Dickens of Detroit

Though Elmore Leornard had been on writer’s radar for many years, it was only in the most recent year or two that I had become familiar with his writing. And that began with viewing the movie, “Get Shorty”. My main impression after seeing “Get Shorty” was that the author was from the LA area. And then I read “Rum Punch” and figured he was from Miami. Next there was “Cuba Libre”, which upon completion had me convinced that Mr. Leornard was actually of Cuban descent. Overall I can’t think of a better skill for a writer, than that of adapting to whatever place he (or she) may find themselves.

My Favorite Elmore Leornard Quotes

“I try to leave out the parts readers skip.”

Question: What kind of writing pays best?
Answer: Ransom notes.
from Get Shorty

Never open a book with weather.

These are just a few to wet your whistle. Actually for a writer who was so known for his dialogue, there were not many quotes to be found easily, except for those dealing with writing.

So long for now.

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New Shoes

cover image for New Shoes
Cover image for my newly, self-published e-book, New Shoes

The Cover

Today, I self-published a new 3,000 word short story at Smashwords. Tomorrow, I will probably add the ebook to Amazon. The story was easy to write, but coming up with a decent cover was a challenge. I can’t say I’m really excited about this one, but it will have to do for now. I used a couple of free images I found at Morguefile to create this undersea collage.

The Story

The story revolves around a young Louisiana fisherman named Jacque LeBeaux and a bunch of trouble he has gotten himself into with some not-so-nice mobsters. I don’t want to say too much, because it will spoil the sea adventure tale….. But I will say that there is a lot of banter and dialogue that goes on between the main character and his captors. You’ll just have to download it and read it to find out how things turn out.

Film Noir

Peculiar Galaxies of Arp 273
Peculiar Galaxies of Arp 273 Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI / AURA)

Noir

Everything profound these days seems to have the word “noir” added to it. All that noir means is “black” in French. In fact, this stylish phrase would sound very politically incorrect, if we used the Spanish version of the word. Somehow a “film negro” festival just doesn’t cut the mustard. And for all you Anglophiles, film black is better, but not as catchy, as the French version. And as a sideline, if you go to a restaurant in Paris and ask for a cafe noir, you’ll receive a cup of coffee without any sugar or cream. Go figure.

Classic Era of Film Noir

According to Wikipedia, the term “film noir” was first used by the French film critic, Nino Frank, in 1946 to describe a set of intriguing murder mystery movies made in black and white. Moreover, the heyday of Hollywood’s “film noir” lasted from the early 1940’s to the late 50s, including such movies as “The Big Sleep”, “D.O.A.”, “The Big Heat”, “The Set-up”, “Gun Crazy” and “The Night and the City”. Most of these movies were low budget, black and white affairs, which lead to similar bigger budget dark films, such as the “Maltese Falcon”, “Key Largo” or a host of Alfred Hitchcock productions.

Film Noir Today

Film Noir never died, it just transformed itself into the modern equivalent of Crime Fiction, which can still be found in film as well as TV and literature. Modern stories, such as “Pulp Fiction”, “Body Heat”, “Miami Vice”, “L.A. Confidential” and Stieg Larsson’s “Millennium Series”, all owe at least a little bit to 40s and 50s Hollywood. This ever-popular may even be seeing a resurgence today – perhaps even a golden age, where superb film productions and literary efforts can be found in many quarters.

Solidarity And Larsson

 

Reflections on Water
Reflections on Water

Reg Keeland, who goes by the pen name of Steven T. Murray, has a blog that is entitled “Stieg Larsson’s English Translator“.  Larsson is pretty big right now, especially with the American release of the Hollywood version of “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” scheduled for the near future. However, only a small bit of Larsson’s fame has been directed towards the busy translator, who is also capable of translating German, Danish and Norwegian into English. Still, Steven Murray manages to keep busy with his translation work and his blog is always a good source of information on Scandinavian writers, who are doing book tours in America.

Lately, a different type of story appeared on Murray’s blog. It was a link to a website publication of a Swedish Organization called Solidarity and an article detailing Larsson’s past and his political activities around the world. The writer, Hakan Blomqvist, was a good friend of Stieg Larsson and knew the writer well. The article makes for an interesting exploration of Larsson’s background.

Turmoil In The Land of the Pharaohs

 

Pyramids at Giza, photo by Ricardo Liberato from Wikipedia
Pyramids at Giza, photo by Ricardo Liberato from Wikipedia

With all the strife that is currently unfolding in Egypt, I thought I would take a quick look around the internet and see what I could learn about this fascinating country. I was especially interested in what kind of literary writing I might find on the subject. The results were quite revealing; for it seems that many fiction writers, when dealing with this large and populous North African nation are very much influenced by colorful history that goes back to the ancient population that flourished here long before the birth of Christ.

Many writers have chosen to set a story along the Nile, as did Agatha Christie, when she penned Death On the Nile, a mystery that was first published in 1934. This is one of her classics that features Hercule Poirot, as the main character, and is usually included with  “Murder On the Orient Express” and “Murder in Mesopotamia” as part of a mystery trilogy.

From here the list takes an interesting  journey into the past, including such titles as Memoirs of Cleopatra (by Margaret George), Nerfititi (by Michelle Moran), Palace of Desire (by Naguib Mahfouz), Crocodiles on the Sandbank (by Elizabeth Peters), Egyptian Art (by Cyril Aldred) and River God (by Wilbur Smith). All of these stories focus on either the near or distant past. Mahfouz is the one native son of the group. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1988 and died in 2006. Overall, he is one of the most recognized of Arabic writers. Incidentally, his trilogy is set in the early twentieth century and not during the time of the pharaohs.

For a look at a more modern setting in contemporary, readers might want to take a look at The Yacoubian Building, a novel by Alaa Al Aswany, a modern Egyptian writer. The title for this book was found at a Lonely Planet forum site that was posted several years ago. Aswany, who also writes in Arabic, has been described as a social realist.

It should be noted that these titles come from a short period of web surfing. I have not read any of these titles, but the titles did catch my eye and I actually came away from the searching process with a tiny bit more of knowledge than before. Whether any of these titles will shed any light on the major story in the day is a mystery to me.

Another Award For Stieg Larsson

Dust and the Helix Nebula; NASA, JPL-Caltech, Kate Su (Steward Obs., U. Arizona), et al.
Dust and the Helix Nebula; NASA, JPL-Caltech, Kate Su (Steward Obs., U. Arizona), et al.

Just before Christmas Stieg Larsson received yet another posthumous award. This time the participating body was the national newspaper, USA Today, and the title of the honor was “Author of the Year”. For Larsson, who died unexpectantly in 2004, appreciation for his Millennium Trilogy is still at high tide, especially here in the US, where the American version of “Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” is due to be released in December of this year.  With sales at 14 million in the US and 50 million worldwide, the Larsson phenomena still has some life to it.

Deirdre Donahue, who did the write-up for USA Today, describes Lisbeth Salander, the main character of the saga, as ” the digital age’s first true heroine”. In literary jargon, Lisbeth is a true anti-hero. With her cat-like actions, true status as a social outcast and computer savvy, Lisbeth’s actions have captured the hearts and minds of readers and moviegoers the world over. This fascination will likely continue at least until the end of 2011, when “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” hits American movie theaters. The fact that the subtitled Swedish version has already made the rounds of American art-film houses should do little to dampen the popularity of the upcoming release.

Stieg Larsson courtesy of Wikipedia
Stieg Larsson courtesy of Wikipedia

A Word From Stieg Larsson’s Translator

view from Kebnekaise, highest point in Sweden
view from Kebnekaise, highest point in Sweden

Steven T. Murray is not a household name, but he is the English to Swedish translator for Stieg Larsson, a title that comes with just a little bit of clout. According to his blog, which is titled Stieg Larsson’s English Translator, Steven is capable of translating from Swedish, Danish, Norwegian and German to English. Now that’s an impressive list of languages. I always tune into his blog every now and then to see what is going on in the literary world of northern Europe.

Recently, I found a particularly interesting item posted by Steven, telling of a recent vampire novel that he had just put into English from Swedish. Now, I’m about the last person world to get interested in a vampire reading. I think I once read 50 pages of Anne Rice’s “Interview With a Vampire” and have yet to watch any vampire movies, unless you consider The Rocky Horror Picture Show to be one of that genre.

However, Murray’s most recent blog caught my attention so here’s the gist of it. Steven has just finished the translation from Swedish to English of a novel called “Nephilim”, by Asa Schwarz. The storyline is kind of humorous and very entertaining all at the same time. According to Steven, the plot goes like this: “these fallen angels, one of whom stowed away on Noah’s Ark when God was trying to wipe them out with the Flood, then interbred with humans and created a new race that has survived to the present day.” I hope that’s not enough words to count as plagiarism, but you had read the whole post at this link.

And while you’re at it here are a couple of more pictures of Sweden, courtesy of Wikipedia.

The Sweden to Denmark Öresunds bridge, Jonas Ericsson, courtesy of Wikipedia
The Sweden to Denmark Öresunds bridge, by Jonas Ericsson, courtesy of Wikipedia
Swedish palace by Kim Hansen, courtesy of Wikipedia
Swedish palace by Kim Hansen, courtesy of Wikipedia

P.S. The book is due to be published in Australia and the UK in 2011 by Sibling Press.