Fresh Meat: Charlie Martz and Other Stories by Elmore Leonard

Charlie Martz and Other Stories by Elmore Leonard is a collection of short, previously unpublished stories of both the Western and crime varieties (available June 16, 2015).

Charlie Martz and Other Stories could be slightly jarring for unsuspecting Elmore Leonard devotees. The fifteen short stories—eleven never before published—were written early in The Dickens of Detroit's celebrated career when he was still cultivating his craft. His son, Peter Leonard, in the introduction acknowledges these early tales break several of the celebrated senior Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing—I began counting how many exclamation points appear in one story. Still, there’s much to welcome in this posthumous assortment by an author Stephen King hailed as, “the great American writer.”

“Charlie Martz” is a terrific Western number that finds a man named Bushway in the sleepy town of Mesilla, befriended by a saloon’s lone customer, Schmidt. Bushway appears startled to learn a mutual acquaintance, Martz, is a local sheriff, and Schmidt offers to escort the two-gun toting stranger to meet Martz unaware that Bushway is an assassin out to kill the lawman. Later, Bushway holds Schmidt and his wife hostage in their home until Martz shows up, after which Bushway forces the wife to spark their close-quarters duel:

Mrs. Schmidt held the long-handled spoon as if it were an object of evil. She bit her lower lip, not making a sound, but her eyes pleaded in the direction of the gunman. Bushway was about to yell at her again when she closed her eyes and with a shudder, swung the spoon behind her with all her might.

The sharp CLANG of the dishpan vibrated no more than a second before the room was filled with the explosive bark of a Colt … a split second … then the same crashing short bark as a Colt jerked fire from its barrel.

Some boisterous cowhands in “First Western Siesta in Paloverde” are lounging about the town’s watering hole, humiliating Martz by swiping his gun and playing keep away until a notorious gunslinger, Reb Spadea, arrives forcing Martz to demonstrate exactly why he has four notches on his Colt. “Paloverde” is almost a rewrite of “Charlie Martz” and contradicts the earlier tale when Martz expounds on where he killed Bushway. Perhaps, old Martz simply forgot or was exaggerating. One thing’s for certain, Leonard at this period in his evolution, had a knack for spinning the Western yarn with effortless charm.

But for those who prefer Leonard’s crime fiction output, “One, Horizontal” features an older brother looking for revenge for his younger sibling who had been maimed by a mobster and wisely isn't looking for retribution himself. A real vibe for old Detroit permeates and delivers the kind of blunt action a Leonard reader craves:

His gun hung at his side. He glanced around and then took the decoration handkerchief from his breast pocket and began wiping his forehead and eyes.

He was looking into plain white when the rock smashed into his face … with my hand around it. Before he went down I let go with three more.

A larger than expected Ernest Hemingway influence is prevalent, and a true gem is “A Happy Light-Hearted People” which is as sincere a homage to Hemingway as has ever been written—Papa himself could have been confused, after a Scotch or two, whether he wrote it (we discover in the introduction that Leonard learned to write by placing a blank piece of paper over the text of a Hemingway tale and rewriting the passage in his own manner). The dialogue in “A Happy Light-Hearted People” forms a bridge, of sorts, from Hemingway's impact to the gritty, wry, language that Leonard became known for a couple of decades later. Bonus: “Arma Virumque Cano,” another Hemingway infused piece, finds a salesman picking up a young female hitchhiker with unexpected results, and is the perfect blending of these two twentieth-century titans’ distinct styles.

Film critic Roger Ebert nailed it when reviewing the Stephen Soderbergh 1998 adaptation of Leonard’s Out of Sight, by saying, “Elmore Leonard is above all the creator of colorful characters.” And this collection certainly serves up another batch of those gravelly, authentic, fringe-dwelling lives. First time readers to Leonard should probably start with one of his later novels like 52 Pick-Up, Stick, or Glitz. Leonard aficionados by all means should dig straightaway into Charlie Martz and Other Stories and savor what little we have left from this undisputed master.

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Charlie Martz and Other Stories Comment Sweepstakes: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.  A purchase does not improve your chances of winning.  Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States, D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec), who are 18 years or older as of the date of entry.  To enter, complete the “Post a Comment” entry at https://www.criminalelement.com/blogs/2015/06/fresh-meat-charlie-martz-and-other-stories-by-elmore-leonard-short-stories-edward-a-grainger beginning at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) June 11, 2015. Sweepstakes ends 11:59 a.m. ET June 18, 2015. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Macmillan, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.


Edward A. Grainger aka David Cranmer is the editor/publisher of the BEAT to a PULP webzine and books and the recent Western novella, Hell Town Shootout.

Read all of Edward A. Grainger's posts for Criminal Element.

Comments

  1. Gordon Bingham

    Elmore Leonard is an important enough writer whose lesser known eorkes need publihing, And to be read.

  2. Sally Schmidt

    This is a must read.

  3. Marjorie Manharth

    Elmore Leonard has been on every vacation with me for years and years. Like potato chips and m&ms.

  4. DebP

    Iève heard so much about Elmore Leonard, and have seen movies made from his books, but have never had the pleasure of reading one for myself.

  5. Denise Sachs

    This would be great, thanks.

  6. Shannon Baas

    I would like this.

  7. Sandy Klocinski

    I’ve never read anything by Elmore Leonard but would like to

  8. tiac35

    I hope I win this prize.

  9. Barbara Lima

    Elmore Lenard, enough said.

  10. Vicky Boackle

    this sounds terrific.

  11. Loren Palmer

    i will enjoy reading !

  12. Richard Hicks

    Would be a nice read for this summer

  13. Benita Glickman

    I would love to read Elmore Lenard’s work!

  14. Lori Walker

    Want!

  15. HESTER MAYO

    Sounds fascinating!!

  16. Anastasia

    I would love to check this out 🙂

  17. Karen Martin

    I would love to read these Elmore Leonard stories. Thanks

  18. L L

    how interesting

  19. Sharon Kaminski

    This is cool, hope I win, I love to read.

  20. Russell Moore

    Something new from an old friend. Looking forward to reading it.

  21. JULES M.

    sounds awesome 🙂

  22. Patricia Hill

    He is one of my favorite authors

  23. Nancy Marcho

    I love short stories. Unfortunately, I don’t see as many short story collections as I used to.

  24. Jeanette Jackson

    I’d like to enter for this book please.

  25. Jeffrey Malis

    This has been on my TBR list ever since I first heard of its potential release. I appreciate the opportunity to take a glimpse back into the formative years of one of the ‘greats’… Thanks for the chance!

  26. Barbara Nolan

    If Stephen King likes it, it must be good. Would love to read it.

  27. Janice Santillo

    Elmore Lenard-must read!

  28. Linda Knowles

    Oooooh, I so need to read this!

  29. Karen Mikusak

    Would love to win!

  30. Beverly Henry

    I am always looking for new books to read and would love to win

  31. Mary Ann Brady

    Sounds interesting. Would love to read it.

  32. Bill Cook

    “I always felt, you don’t have a good time doin’ crime, you may as well find a job.” Can’t beat readin’ Elmore Leonard doin’ crime.

  33. lynette thompson

    This looks to be the read of the summer. Love it. Thank you

  34. daniel thornton

    I like winning books.

  35. Art Taylor

    Very much looking forward to this book!

  36. Peggy Carpenter

    Love Elmore Leonard. He’s one of the first authors my husband and I shared when we became friends. Eons and eons ago. 🙂

  37. JAMES LYNAM

    Great Summer Beach Read.
    Hope I Win.

  38. Seana Graham

    When you conside that the whole Justified series came out of one Leonard story, you know his short fiction is pretty hefty.

  39. Laurence Coven

    As many great writers who made their bones in one particular genre did, Leonard was an accomplished writer who was not limited to mystery/suspense. While Westerns are now a fairly unpoular genre, my hunch is that Leonard’s short stories might go a ways to reversing that trend. Great writers are great writers no matter their choice of subject material.

  40. Frank Deady Jr

    Dutch!!!

  41. HESTER MAYO

    I would be honored to win this !!

  42. actuary101

    I’ve loved Leonard’s stories for many years. He came to our Tucson Festival of Books the first two years and was a very interesting speaker. Interestingly, he said that he wrote all his books out longhand on 11″ tablets! He also did not use colons or semicolons – said it should be a new sentence.

  43. Stacy

    I feel lucky to live in a time with so many great books. Was just checking out Elmore Leonard’s bibliography, published in order.

  44. Jackie Wisherd

    I would enjoy reading this book.

  45. Susan Pertierra

    I would love to read unpublished short stories from Elmore Leaonard.

  46. gamblewriter

    Leonard is gone. As is Carver and Poe! Wish they were still with us…missing them…and treasuring T.C. Boyle…regretting the existence of Bwannabe Kindalls..

  47. Brad Bonds

    I need more Elmore Leonard.

  48. Kathleen Evans

    He observed people; then ran them through his typewriter and turned loose in new surroundings.

  49. patricia gibby

    I would love to win this. Love Elmore Leonard.

  50. Rick Ollerman

    This sounds like a great complement to the series from Library of America….

  51. Laura McLendon

    Elmore Leonard will be missed, he wrote some crazy, wacky, weird, Great stuff!!

  52. Mildred Mayo

    With a glass of ice tea, in a comfortable chair and reading this Elmore Leonard book ,ahhh, the perfect way to spend a summer evening.

  53. Karl Stenger

    I would love to read this collection.

  54. Lisa Pecora

    I would love to read this!

  55. Michele Neuhouser

    Very nice!!!!

  56. Mike Rogers

    I love his work.

  57. Fred Gillis

    Count me in.

  58. Cullen Gallagher

    Hope this is only the first in many unpulished Leonard collections to come!

  59. Jennifer Graham

    I am excited to see this, and can’t wait to read the collection!

  60. superdee9

    would be awesome to win and read these great books

  61. Joanne Mielczarski

    I am a fan of Elmore Leonard and am happy for the opportunity to receive this book.

  62. Debby Kulchar

    Hey this would be great to win – so excited!

  63. Charlene Roberson

    I just LOVE Elmore Leonard. Now that we have lost him AND Justified, I am at my wit’s end………………..

  64. Peter W. Horton Jr.

    Elmore is the Man! Yes!

  65. Denise Jenkins

    I watched Justified and loved it from day one. I didn’t read any of Mr. Leonard’s books but I do love a western. I from the old scjool of western’s. Rifleman, Wagon Train and I loved Silverado. I am reading DOC at this time and it is well written. I am trying to read as many books as I can but I have found out that that is going to take time!

  66. David Siegel

    Can’t wait to read this soon.

  67. Margot Core

    So pleased to find that there is more Elmore Leonard that I haven’t read yet!

  68. susan beamon

    I have enjoyed reading Elmore Leonard ever since I first read KillShot, and I have no idea how long ago that was. I especially lied how he moved the story through conversation more than anything else.

  69. Barbara Miller

    I can’t wait to read

  70. Chuck Aeschbacher Jr

    looks good.

  71. bigsandwich6

    Love Leonard’s westerns

  72. Kathleen Kelly

    I have read and enjoyed almost all of Elmore Leonard’s works. I am definitely a fan. I have even loved the TV series Justified, based on Fire in the Hole! It would be awesome to read and have this book in my library. Thank you for the opportunity!

  73. Desmond Warzel

    Count me in, please!

  74. Sara Sugihara

    love Elmore Leonard and would love to win this!!

  75. Michael Carter

    Leonard’s writing is great.
    Yes, please enter me in this sweepstakes.
    Thanks!

  76. Nancy Shepherd

    I would love to win!

  77. Daniel Morrell

    sounds like a fun one!

  78. Theresa Sivelle

    This is the only author my husband reads. I would love to give these to him and maybe try them myself. 🙂

  79. Linda Peters

    I have read most of his books, but don’t recall this one so it would be nice to win, thanks

  80. Sally Winkleblech

    I enjoy his books, would be interesting to read his earliest books to see how his writing evolved.

  81. Ronald Roseborough

    I’m new to Leonard’s writing, but it sounds like a must read. Count me in.

  82. Aaron Shapiro

    Thanks for this giveaway!

  83. Cindy Hipolito

    Enjoy all your giveaways. Thanks bunches!

  84. Chris Teel

    My intro to Leonard was Maximum Bob. Umpteen books later and he never failed to entertain me.

  85. Tasker

    It’s in the dialogue.

  86. Jaime Aron

    RIP, Elmore. Look forward to reading more from the master.

  87. Wesley Glassgow

    I enjoy the authenticity of his settings, the individual quirkiness of his characters, and plots that meander like real life. He was more than a wordsmith forming sentences, he crafted images on the page.

  88. D Hamilton

    I love all his works, and have been a fan since I was a teenager. Elmore Leonard is sadly missed.

  89. Ed Nemmers

    I would like to read the works of Elmore Leonard.

  90. Tawney Mazek

    Early Elmore – definitley of interest. I suspect what I so like about his writing is already there.

  91. Ted A Schmidt

    One can only hope that there is more Leonard in bottom drawers in Detroit, Birmingham awaiting publishing.

  92. Pam Flynn

    On this rainy day…again…I would love to read a good story from Elmore Leonard! I have not read his work yet but can’t wait to be introduced!

  93. Saundra K. Warren

    Love his books!

  94. Wilifred Alire

    Never read his short fiction, looking forward to his gritty westerns.

  95. B Hamilton

    I would love to read this!

  96. Barry Hamilton

    I would love to read this!

  97. Amy Alkon

    People who want to read Elmore Leonard should read the work he *intended* to have published — Swag, Glitz, 52 Pickup, and on from there.

  98. Caryn Neumann

    Elmore Leonard! I can’t wait to read this!

  99. M Thompson

    This would be a wonderful book to read. Love Elmore Leonard.

  100. Carl White

    [b]I could have swore I already made a comment?[/b]

  101. Andra Dalton

    Being a huge Elmore Leonard fan this is just about the most amazing giveaway I could imagine!!! Thanks so much for the opportunity to win & good luck to all who enter!!!:)

  102. Karen Terry

    I love Elmore Leonard’s books. There is always a good plot and good conversations in his books. You always knew what the characters were thinking and feeling.

  103. Kris Kaminski

    nothing better than a Elmore story!

  104. Janice Milliken

    what a storyteller-this would be a treasued book in my library!

  105. Tricha Leary

    sounds great

  106. Renee Rousseau

    I am new to
    Elmore Leonard’s books and have placed him high on my TBR list.

  107. Daniel Vice

    I would like this

  108. trish mckee

    This would be a great treat!

  109. Tallulah

    Thanks for the giveaway. Sounds like a great read.

  110. Jerry Marquardt

    I would like to explore Elmore Leonard. I have heard geat things and from what I see, I am very interested in reading this soon.

  111. Brian Eason

    Thanks for the giveaway… EL is one of my favorite writers.

  112. Kim Keithline

    sounds great sign me up

  113. Buddy Garrett

    I would enjoy reading this book. It sounds great. Thanks.

  114. Lily Kwan

    Thanks for the great giveaway!

  115. Tim Moss

    Good deal, count me in!

  116. Mike Markland

    Must read this !!!

  117. vicki wurgler

    thanks a great summer read

  118. Barbara Fish

    I really really want to win this book.

Comments are closed.