Former leading New Zealand publisher and bookseller, and widely experienced judge of both the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, talks about what he is currently reading, what impresses him and what doesn't, along with chat about the international English language book scene, and links to sites of interest to booklovers.
Friday, August 23, 2013
Who are the successors to Elmore Leonard's crown?
Now that the King of Crime is gone Jake Kerridge selects five hard-boiled US
crime writers to succeed him.
Leonard's 1990 novel Get Shorty – a book that ought to come
high on any discerning reader's list of the best American novels of the 20th
Century – there is a scene in which the producer Harry Zimm rejects a movie
pitch thus: "You know why it doesn't work? ... There's nobody to sympathise
with. Who's the good guy? You don't have one."
"Dutch" Leonard's novels often didn't have one either. In this scene he is
guying the prescriptive attitude to crime fiction and drama that, more than any
other writer of his generation, he strove to overturn. He did away with
conventional heroes and made his readers sympathise with low-lifes and whores,
investing the dumbest hooligans with an eloquence that made their stupidity as
quotably aphoristic as anybody else's wisdom. He also made it acceptable to do
away with the mystery element of crime fiction and eschewed minutely detailed
plots. "I make it up as I go along. I enjoy writing because I want to find out
what's gonna happen," he told me in
His characters will delight readers for decades to come and his influence is
enormous – could any Tarantino film, not just Jackie
Brown, have come into existence without Leonard? – and continues to
live on through the generation of crime novelists that followed him. I present
here a list of the best of those American writers who, in my view, are keeping
the Dutch flag flying. More