Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Kate Stine; Elmore Leonard; Blissed Out

Hi Ed,

Art Taylor has written a terrific article about books dealing with civil rights which discusses THE COLOR OF HATE.

Would you happen to have a photo of Joe Hensley? If not, could you maybe post a query on your blog to see if anyone else has one we could use in Mystery Scene?

Hope all is well with you!


Kate Stine, Editor in chief
Mystery Scene Magazine
331 W. 57th Street, Suite 148
New York, NY 10019-3101
Tel: 212-765-7124

Ed here: I don't have a photo of Big Joe but maybe one of you out there could help out. He was one hell of a guy and one hell of a writer.

---------Elmore Leonard

I get several review books a week. I open the package and read ten, fifteen pages and if it looks like something that might interest me, I put it on the To Read stack.

In the past two days I've received six crime novels (I also get science fiction and fantasy) and this morning I sat down to see which of them I might like to review.

Three of them surprised me. They started out more Elmore Leonard than even Elmore Leonard is. At one point in one of them I thought I was reading an old Leonard called Gold Coast. Honest.

I suppose Hammett and Chandler were as slavishly copied, too, in their time but my little experience this morning startled me. Wow. So many crime writers have adopted his style, his attitude even some of his scenes.

Just think--if you had to pay a writer for copying him Elmore Leonard would be richer than the Saudis.

----------The Chemo Room

Like most cancer patients I receive a couple of cancer magazines a month. One of them is scientific and I at least give that one a look. The other is inspirational. I have nothing against it but I'm pretty hard to inspire.

I have been diagnosed three times with cancer. The third time turned out to be a mis-diagnosis but it got my attention nonetheless.

I was diagnosed with my first cancer, of the thyroid, in Jan and had two operations for it. Complete success. Month and a half later I was dignosed with multiple myeloma. Incurable.

Around this time I started reading some of those inspirational articles that said that cancer would so consume my attention that I would begin to see all my other concerns as foolish and forgettable. No more pettiness, jealously, anger, spite. I would finally be the dude the nuns always said I could be.

Unfortunately, I was one of those faux hippies who, no matter how many drugs, how much wine, coud never reach Bliss. And I'm afraid my cancer self has failed the same kind of test. I'm still the same pricky guy I've always been.

I was reminded of this while I was getting chemo this afternoon. Usually my stay in the chemo room is pleasant. The nurses are great and the atmosphere is gentle and friendly.

I contribute to this beatific atmosphere by never running my mouth about politics. Hell, a good share of us in there are dying. Better to talk about the grandkids and old times and how those new meds are doing for you.

Today however I sat next to a guy about my own age who swaggered in with a McCain button and a ball cap that said PROUD HUNTER. There was one only seat left. Next to mine, of course.

I buried my head in the new Richard Stark novel (which is great by the way) sensing that it would be best if I just smiled at the guy and paid no attention to him.

This proved hard to do when he started yapping to the guy on the other side about how the Dems and the gays and the Muslims (Guess who? Just like in that New Yorker cover of him!) were a bunch of anti-American sissies who wanted to destroy all that right thinking `mericans hold dear.

Even a couple of the nurses, passing by, smiled at me and rolled their eyes. I of course wanted to play Homer Simpson to his Bart. You know, starngling him till his tongue stuck out a yard or so.

To be my credit I almost made it to the end. But when he started in on Michelle Obama I couldn't take it anymore. I started laughing out loud. Theatrically loud. His head swung around and he glared at me, not sure how to interpret my laughter. "What's funny?"

"Your Rush Limbaugh routine." And then I said, "You seem like way too bright a guy to believe any of this crap. You're just putting us on, right?"

"Hello, no, I'm not putting you on."

"Oh, God, I'm sorry."

But for the final fifteen minutes of my chemo, he spoke his idiocy in a much lower voice.


Anonymous said...

You're a braver man than I, Ed. Most of the Limbaugh lovers where I live are so bitter and angry(a seeming prerequisite to becoming a "conservative"), that I'm always scared to enter a conversation with them for fear I'll end up in the emergency room. There's a donut shop in this town that's their turf, and a visit to it is either a silent ordeal of listening to their parroting of Rush's lies, or a quick dash for something to go. Flags and slogans on the walls, Bush and Reagan pics, anti-Obama and pro-gun literature near the cash register. I feel much safer in the biker bar down the block. Next time you come and visit I'll take you down there for a Long John or two. Terry Butler

pattinase (abbott) said...

Good for you, Ed. Too often I let this kind of thing pass. I think most of us avoid confrontation too often, letting guys like him think the whole world agrees with him.

John McFetridge said...

A great way to deal with the guy, way to go. Although the Homer Simpson approach would have felt pretty good at the time, too ;)

By the way, I'm one of those writers influenced by Elmore Leonard. Of course, I'm also influenced by Raymond Carver and Richard Ford and even Alice Munro and John Updike and Hemingway (have you read his short story "Fifty Grand" lately? Wow, talk about your Elmore Leonard) but because my books have crimes in them, Elmore Leonard's name has shown up in almost every review I've ever received.

I understand it. I tell people that with these working-class characters Elmore Leonard has just got them right - the closer the rest of us get to getting them right, the more we sound like Elmore Leonard.

For me, these characters are my father and my brother and my uncles - cops and ex-cons and that's what they sound like and how they think.

If I had more talent I'd find some other way to get these characters across, but I have to fall back on the way they really are.

Besides, Elmore Leonard says a writer has to write a million words before they find their own voice - but he said it was okay to try and sell some books before then ;)

Great post, very inspirational.

Bill Carlin said...

Your encounter with the blowhard reminded me of a lot of chemo rooms. Although I work for a cancer charity as an information nurse taking calls and e mails I did twenty years on radio and chemotherapy wards.I can picture the nurses rolling their eyes. I'm sure a few would have to bite their tongues as well. Right wing monomania seems to be international even with our "socialized" medicine {thank God} in the UK.

No matter how much you tell yourself that the chap is hurting and scared, that mouthing off is just his way of coping, it's difficult to keep quiet. Especially when you think of all the other people doing the hard work of quietly going through tough treatment. In that kind of situation it was always nice to see someone stand up for the little guy.

I'd be willing to bet that your nurses reacted in the same way that my colleagues and I used to. In some quiet corner of that unit, out of sight of the public, you would have received a silent round of applause. More power to you.

Todd Mason said...

Barney Dannelke, on the Ellison Webderland discussion board, notes the following portrait, and that the page's owners can probably offer provenance and rights info:


Todd Mason said...

And a less flattering candid Barney found, on the SFWA obit:


Anonymous said...

Great story, Ed, in the chemo ward. I can't take any of the talking heads.

Ed Lynskey

Terrie Farley Moran said...


There is something mentally wrong with anyone who thinks that a roomful of strangers are entitled to his opinion at the top of his voice. Why would anyone even be interested?

You did a nice job on him.


Todd Mason said...

Your antagonist/pest: A desperate man facing his own mortality, taking advantage of a captive audience...sad in so many dimensions.