Finally, some culture!
Elmore Leonard appeared on Don Imus’s radio/TV program this morning and it was a relief to catch this author who has dazzled us for quite some time.
The interview only lasted about 15 minutes but both Imus and Leonard were in stride and we were charmed. We learned that Leonard produced 10 Rules of Writing (never NEVER begin or even use the word Suddenly), but mostly we learned that there’s more to our culture than trash. In case you don’t know who Elmore Leonard is – well that’s my point.
Elmore Leonard is proof that maybe tough guys can’t dance but tough guys can write.
The shame of it is that we don’t get more of this even with all the technology we’ve got going. I’m sure Book Talk exists somewhere over the air but seems to elude me. C-Span does offer up writers on weekends but it’s always non-fiction. Novelists are persona non grata. NPR? Maybe. But unless your views are Liberal you have no shot.
There was a time when the titans of literature – like Norman Mailer and Truman Capote — would meet with Dick Cavett, David Susskind and Jack Paar, and sometimes Johnny Carson would introduce a REAL WRITER to fill in the last five minutes of air time.
(Only novelists are REAL WRITERS in case you’re wondering.)
Novelists – by definition – are thinking people, and in case you haven’t noticed, there isn’t much thinking going on. Much talking, yes; not much thinking.
A novelist intends to provoke. This is not the same as two talking heads yelling at one another or a group of TV Housewives having a fit.
Also, novelists don’t think in sound bites. We think in paragraphs. Maybe that’s why we’re kept in the closet.
What we have are politicians and actors showing up all over the place and there is nothing to learn from people who are always in the service of themselves. What we have here is “failure to communicate” (Cool Hand Luke), so how amazing to find someone articulate.
Yet everybody wants to be a writer and the books keep on coming even or especially from people who can’t write, so it’s done by committee, or by assembly line, and these do yield $10 million contracts (like Hillary Clinton’s) because someone got famous doing something else besides write.
These “books” SUDDENLY become bestsellers because there’s a sucker born every minute…but forgotten like yesterday’s garbage.
Elmore Leonard is the genuine article and we don’t have many of these to spare. Kudos to Don Imus for giving us some moments with this gentleman of letters.
As for Imus, he is surely the finest interviewer we’ve got in either TV or radio. He cuts straights through the baloney.
His irreverence takes us back to the days of Lenny Bruce and Mort Sahl, when serious was funny and funny was serious…and broadcasting had a touch of class.
Novelist Jack Engelhard’s website: www.indecentviews.com