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A Press Democrat Blog

Cohn Zohn

Lowell Cohn's pertinent and impertinent take on sports

On loving writers of the second rank

I can’t get the death of Elmore Leonard out of my mind. So please bear with me. As you know, I had a highfalutin education in the English novel at Lafayette and Stanford, an education I love and cherish. I was taught only A-list writers: Jane Austen, Joseph Conrad, Charles Dickens, Henry James, etc. I also was taught a particular way to read them: What are they saying? What does such-and-such mean? As I became a writer — a humble… Read More »

RIP, Elmore Leonard

Elmore Leonard died this morning at his home near Detroit. He was 87. He was an American crime writer. I stress American because his prose and his dialog are pure American in the way Mark Twain wrote American prose — how real people speak real. Leonard’s books are fascinating and hard and funny and, as a prose stylist — in his way — I would put him up against anyone. Well not up against Nabokov. But up against Joyce and… Read More »

Elmore Leonard and Ricky

I’m lounging around the house feeling crummy — stuffed nose, a cough, the usual. When I feel crummy I read Elmore Leonard, a prose genius and a funny guy who cheers me up. So, I’m lying bed reading “Mr. Paradise” and I come across this bit. A crook hires a teenager named Ricky to keep watch on the female protagonist, a dangerous beauty. The crook says to Ricky, “You have my number — right?” “I got it somewhere,” Ricky says.… Read More »

Elmore Leonard

I feel a little down in the dumps these days. Mrs. Cohn Zohn is still recovering from her hip replacement and we don’t go out much. And I feel like I have things on my mind, more than usual. When I go through periods like this one, I read like a maniac. I read a lot anyway. But at times like these I read escapist literature. About 10 years ago, I read about 20 books by P.G. Wodehouse, a comic… Read More »