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States of Emergency: The Object of American Studies

States of Emergency: The Object of American Studies

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Arts and Culture

Crime Writer Elmore Leonard Dies at 87

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Posted on Aug 20, 2013
MDCarchives (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Along with his literary contributions, author Elmore Leonard’s crime thrillers became part of the American cultural conversation through screen adaptations of several of his stories—“Get Shorty” and “Out of Sight” among them.

On Tuesday, he died at his home in Bloomfield Township, Mich., at age 87.

Leonard’s New York Times obit points out that, although “Get Shorty” marked the author’s big breakthrough—in 1995—he put in quite a bit of work before becoming a household name.

Mr. Leonard, who started out by writing westerns, had his first story published in Argosy magazine in 1951, and 60 years later he was still turning out a book a year because, he said, “It’s fun.”

It was in that spirit that Mr. Leonard, at 84, took more than a casual interest in the development for television of one of his short stories, “Fire in the Hole.” “Justified,” as the resulting FX series was called, won a Peabody Award in 2011 in its second season and sent new fans to “Pronto” (1993) and “Riding the Rap” (1995), two novels that feature the series’s hero, Raylan Givens (played by Timothy Olyphant), a federal marshal from Harlan County, Ky., who presents himself as a good ol’ country boy but is “not as dumb as you’d like to believe.”

Approving of the way the show was working out, Mr. Leonard wrote his 45th novel, “Raylan,” with the television series in mind. Published in 2012, it featured three strong female villains and gave its cowboy hero license to shoot one of them.

For a more complete rundown of Leonard’s contributions to television and film, click here.

—Posted by Kasia Anderson.


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