1book140's September Read: Vote for an Elmore Leonard Book

Choose one of four beloved works by the "Dickens of Detroit," who died earlier this month.
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Delacorte Press, Arbor House Publishers, elmoreleonard.com

Newspapers and blogs have echoed with sorrow at Elmore Leonard's death last week at the age of 87. They have also rung with admiration for the "Dickens of Detroit" and "literary treasure."

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Leonard wrote more than 40 books and received the National Book Foundation's Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, the Lifetime Achievement Award from PEN USA, and the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America. Listen to Scott Simon's memories of Leonard in "A Writer who Hated Literature" on NPR.

Commenters on 1book140, our Twitter book club, have been calling for an Elmore Leonard month. Vote below for the book you want to read. Voting closes Wednesday at noon. Once we select the book for September, I'll announce the results post a schedule here at The Atlantic and on our Twitter hashtag, #1book140.


Get Shorty is the story of a Miami loan shark who finds himself in Hollywood, where any experience can turn into the script of a movie. The late Nora Ephron reviewed Get Shorty for The New York Times in 1990, praising Leonard's sentences, "long looping twisting strings of words that turn around and back up and go the other way, managing somehow (but how?) to avoid all the accouterments of punctuation like colons, semicolons and parentheses." Get Shortly was also adapted into a film starring John Travolta and Gene Hackman.

In La Brava, a former Secret Service agent who leaves to take up photography and his love of film. When Joe's love interest, a former film star, is threatened with extortion, La Brava gets involved in what starts to seem all too much like one of her films. La Brava won an Edgar award in 1984 for Best Novel. Read the 1983 New York Times review.

In the crime comedy Out of Sight, prisoner Jack Foley escapes prison in the trunk of a car alongside Karen Cisco, who tried to prevent his escape and will ultimately pursue him. The film starring George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez won an Edgar award for best screenplay and the National Society of Film Critics awards for best film and best screenplay in 1998.

Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing, illustrated by Joe Cardiello, is a beautiful book that expands Leonard's popular 2001 New York Times article on "hooptedoodle" in writing. If we choose this book, let's spend the month discussing books that meet or break Leonard's rules.

Whichever book we choose, let's also plan to watch and discuss a Leonard film adaptation.

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J. Nathan Matias develops technologies for civic participation, media analytics, and creative learning at the MIT Media Lab and Center for Civic Media. He also co-facilitates @1book140, The Atlantic's Twitter book club.

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