Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Self-Promoting Genius of Elmore Leonard

I've read exactly six Elmore Leonard novels. This puts me in the peculiar spot of having read a fair representation of the man's work, without quite picking him up as a habit. I'm settling on the reasons for that, but I'll get to those after I've digested Raylan.

I devoured his profiles and interviews, though. The man was a canny self-promoter nonpareil.

1967: The ad-man cometh.

Here is a classic example: a Brit interviews “Dutch” and swallows the “What a humble man” shtick hook, line and sinker. Now, granted, at this point it's bad form to suggest Leonard was anything but. Certainly he was a master at charming self-effacement. But look at the little digs he takes at Quentin Tarantino and Martin Amis. They're delivered in a “Just joshing among friends” tone, and both subjects seemingly laugh it off. But these “off-handed” jabs also hit the bulls-eye — pretty hard — making Dutch the winner-by-a-knockout in this profile, without either of his targets realizing what hit 'em.

I'm going to miss that.

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