The great fiction writer Elmore Leonard passed away yesterday at the age of 87 years old. Mr. Leonard published over 40 novels and numerous short stories in a writing career that spanned five decades. He started as a writer of westerns and became one of the most loved crime novelists of his time. His mastery of dialogue won him praise from reviewers and fellow authors. Martin Amis, Kinky Friedman and Joe Queenan all reviewed Leonard novels for the New York Times.
He was a darling of Tinseltown too. Several of his stories were adapted into film more than once, including “The Big Bounce” and “The 3:10 to Yuma.” There was no trouble finding Hollywood A-Listers to star in his films either. Paul Newman, Gene Hackman, John Travolta, Jennifer Lopez, George Clooney, Russell Crowe, Danny DeVito, and Vince Vaughn are only a handful of the stars who have played characters created by Leonard.
So what’s the tax hook to this homage? There has to be one right? There is.
Leonard’s novel Pagan Babies features “Father” Terry Dunn, who is living in Rwanda to dodge an indictment for Federal tax fraud. As the story moves along we find out that Terry may not be the man of the cloth that he holds himself out to be, and when he returns to his hometown of Detroit he runs in to a few other problems to go along with his tax situation. You’ll have to read the book to find out how it all plays out. Pagan Babies may not be the finest work of Leonard’s career – it did offer popular exposure to the devastating violence that plagued Rwanda for many years – but it gave us an excuse to pay public homage to one of our favorite writers.
Read Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing here.