RARA-AVIS: Elmore leonard and ROAD DOGS

From: davidcorbett622 (davidcorbettauthor@gmail.com)
Date: 08 Sep 2010

  • Next message: Ron Clinton: "RE: (To Joy) RE: RARA-AVIS: John Rector's THE COLD KISS... and motel noir"

    Interesting anecdote, take it as you will.

    I recently did a gig at San Quentin prison -- it was called a Literary Throwdown, six writers competing against the top six writers in the prison's creative writing program -- and got reacquainted with a Bay Area memoirist named Joe Loya. His book is titled, THE MAN WHO OUTGREW HIS PRISON CELL, and recounts his stories as "The Gentleman Bank Robber"(he went into banks wearing a white overcoat and a white scarf, with a pistol-grip 12 gauge) and then his transformation in prison (he did eight years, but turned himself around because an FBI agent believed in him -- even AFTER he went right back to robbing banks after his first stint in prison).

    Turns out Joe has long used the term "road dog," a phrase he picked up in federal stir, and it appears in his book and his one-man show. One of Leonard's assistants contacted him asking if Leonard could use the term, and wanted to know what it meant, how it was used, the nuances, etc. Joe said sure, filled the assistant in, who then went merrily on his way.

    A little while later Joe gets a copy of the manuscript. A very nice note of appreciation appears at the beginning, naming Joe. But then he reads the text, and realizes Leonard has ignored some pretty serious points: such as, you don't sleep with your road dog's girlfriend. (Anyone who knows cons knows respect is a key theme, and disrespect a potentially deadly offense). It's dishonorable, and yet Jack Foley does it in this book (I think, I'm going on hearsay here). So Joe makes some notes on the manuscript, sends it back. Then: nothing. Until the book comes out. Guess what? The note of appreciation has vanished, none of Joe's notes were addressed, and he's feeling a little burned.

    Life in the lit world? Yeah. Sure. But the one-eighty from respect to dismissal, and insertion then removal of the appreciation kinda stinks. Who knows what the whole story is. Joe inquired, the assistant blamed Leonard, I wonder if the lawyers publishers didn't step in. But I can't see myself running out to buy the book.

    I do, however, highly recommend: THE MAN WHO OUTGREW HIS PRISON CELL. It stands as one of the great prison narratives, along with Jimmy Santiago Baca's A PLACE TO STAND, Chris Blatchford's THE BLACK HAND (about Boxer Enriquez), and Jimmy Lerner's YOU GOT NOTHING COMING.

    David Corbett www.davidcorbett.com

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 08 Sep 2010 EDT