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Dialogue with Dutch: Remembering Elmore Leonard


The literary world has suffered a loss with the death of Elmore Leonard at age 87. It seems fitting that at the time of the death he was working on his 45th novel. Writing was what he liked to do, and he did it well.

In 2008, I was the public relations director for the F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Conference. It was in that capacity that I was introduced to Elmore Leonard, who preferred to be called “Dutch.”

Oh, I had known Elmore Leonard for years, through his writing and through movies based on his writing. I’d enjoyed reading Swag and Rum Punch, The Hot Kid and Glitz. And I’d enjoyed movies like 3:10 to Yuma and Get Shorty. I’m probably one of the few people who thinks Jackie Brown (based on Rum Punch) was one of Tarantino’s better movies.

So I already knew that Elmore Leonard was a master of sparse, concise writing and witty, realistic dialogue. His gritty characters and colorful stories put you there as it happened. He was a writer’s writer who wrote because he loved to.

Awards showered him, including the F. Scott Fitzgerald Award, which brought me into contact with him. In accepting the award, he joined a legacy of other FSF honorees, including John Updike, Joyce Carol Oates, Norman Mailer, E.L. Doctorow, Ernest J. Gaines, Edward Albee, William Styron, William J. Kennedy, and Pat Conroy.

What I learned during the weekend that I met Elmore Leonard in person was that Dutch was as great a guy as he was a writer. Success had not gone to his head. He was down-to-earth and approachable, even deflecting attention by complimenting me and others he talked with during the reception and conference and dinner. He was a gentleman. His mastery of dialogue made him a great conversationalist. (Or maybe it was the other way around.)

Yesterday I pulled down several of my inscribed Elmore Leonard novels to read his kind notes of encouragement, and to decide which one to read next. And the copy of his 10 Rules, which you can find here:

Join Dutch at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Conference here:
And, for old time’s sake, here’s my original writeup announcing Elmore Leonard as the 2008 F. Scott Fitzgerald honoree:

About Eric D. Goodman

Eric D. Goodman is a full-time writer and editor who loves travel almost as much as he loves reading Steinbeck. His novel in stories, Tracks, was published by Atticus Books (Summer 2011) and won the 2012 Gold Medal for Best Fiction in the Mid-Atlantic Region from the Independent Publishers Book Awards. It follows a passenger train full of travelers who touch one another in unexpected ways. He’s also the author of Flightless Goose, a storybook for children. Eric's work has appeared in The Baltimore Review, Pedestal Magazine, Writers Weekly, The Potomac, Barrelhouse, JMWW, Scribble, Slow Trains, and New Lines from the Old Line State: An Anthology of Maryland Writers, among others. His second novel, Womb, is currently with his agent. Visit Eric on Facebook, Twitter, at his literary blog, Writeful, or at his website.

1 Awesome Comments So Far

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  1. Karen Guzman
    August 27, 2013 at 3:21 pm #

    Writers who care about other writers. Oh, yeah. We need more of those. Be nice, play nicely, salute each other’s essence. Leonard was a bright light. Let’s hope his spirit lives on…