I'm a fan of writers, as any reader of these articles can plainly tell, in some way, shape, or form. But, every year, it gets harder to see heroes of the literary, or any artistic, persuasion stave off the beaten path and end up like all things: in the ground.
Fancy phrasing aside, I've always had a rough time dealing with the death of heroes: people who influenced me, in one way, shape, or form, in dealing with this crazy world of ours. Those who influence me the most are the rebels of the world, who go out of their way to be odd, creative, and free to live whatever life they so choose to live. Now, add in those same rebels being some of the best writers to hit this world since the dawn of time, and they skyrocket up, in my opinion.
Unfortunately, even rebels are not immune to time, and, on Tuesday, August 20th, 2013, a great man and author named Elmore Leonard passed away. The world is poorer because of his loss.
I got into Elmore Leonard primarily because of Unknown Man No.89: Jack Ryan's adventures in dealing with scumbags and wayward drug dealers always got a kick out of me. But, my connection with Elmore Leonard, and my continued sadness, in many ways, comes down to one singular event.
Around May 2012 or so, I decided to start writing and sending letters out to various individuals: authors, artists, rock stars, a few celebrity crushes(here's to you Lady Gaga, oddly enough), and some politicians, too. Now, the norm would be to never get a response, which was my experience, for the most part.
That all changed one day, coming back home from school to find a letter in the mailbox. The address stamped on it clearly had "Michigan" all over it. To my surprise, of all the people to actually respond to a young weird writer like myself, it was Elmore Leonard who had responded to my fan-boyish letter.
To this day, no one I ever contacted has ever responded back, even if it's a letter just stating how thankful I am to have read or seen the work of the person in question. But, Elmore Leonard did, somehow. I always feel honored whenever I see that letter on my refrigerator door. I always feel happy that the man himself gave me some great advice on writing and fiction, in general. I will always treasure that letter and moment.
That's why I will always feel sad upon seeing that letter, too. It's always bittersweet to lose an icon like Elmore Leonard, who wrote on notepads for nigh-on fifty years or so. Novel after novel, from Detroit capers to Westerners to slick Hollywood and Mob tales, he did it all. He did it with great dialogue that snaps right off the page and can be only correlated next to the finest music, that reminds you why you love to read.
We lost a great man in the world of literature, and we lost a great man, in general. I will always miss Mr. Leonard, and his legacy of great literature will hopefully influence countless more generations of writers and readers.
So, here's to you, Elmore Leonard: The world is less without you.