Honor Elmore Leonard by Reading Books this Fall

by K.M. Zahrt

This post is dedicated to Elmore Leonard, an extraordinarily prolific writer and Detroiter. Leonard died this week. NPR produced a great story on him and his life (see “Related Articles” below), so there’s no need for me to write more.

Unfortunately, artists are all-too-often appreciated more after their deaths. For writers, I believe this is magnified because of the time it takes to produce quality writing. Writing is similar to distilling in this way. If you wanted to start a distillery to produce great bourbon, it would take you at least two years, probably closer to eight or ten years, before you’d ever pour a glass of quality bourbon for a customer. With writing, once a work is produced, it often takes an equal amount of time or more for the work to cycle through intended audiences. Even then, it takes time for the audience to fully appreciate the value of the work produced.

This makes the work of authors like Leonard all the more impressive. For the aspiring writer, I don’t intend this to seem like doom and gloom either. I think it’s encouraging. Sometimes I want to rush a work of fiction along and get it out the door, but I need to remind myself it takes time to develop the work properly to get it out the right way. Writers like Leonard honed their voice and their craft over decades. It takes steady work over the long term for a writer to get there.

In the meantime, as Literary Citizens, it’s our job to appreciate the contemporary writers who are fully maturing right now like an 18-year-old barrel of Glenlivet. Here are three books coming out this fall from writers at the height of their careers:

  • Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon will be released on September 17. Pynchon is an MacArthur “genius.” He has won the National Book Award for Fiction. His work The Crying of Lot 49 is often listed and will probably remain in the canon of American Literature.
  • The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri will be released on September 24. Lahiri’s collection of short stories, Interpreter of Maladies, won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
  • The Circle by Dave Eggers will be released on October 8. Eggers has written several bestselling works. His last novel, A Hologram for the King, was a finalist for the National Book Award. And, full disclosure, he is a personal favorite of mine.

Enjoy! If you’re anxiously awaiting a new release from one of your favorite authors, share it below and share it with everyone you know.


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