By Robert Downes
One can only wonder what Elmore Leonards laconic heroes and tough-talkin
villains would have to say about an upcoming Pure Michigan Picnic by
West Grand Traverse Bay to kick off the National Cherry Festival this
That might well be a question for the author himself, who will be the
guest of honor at An Evening with Elmore Leonard and the National Cherry
Festival this Saturday, July 2 from 6-9 p.m.
The event also kicks off the summer/fall season of the National Writers
Series (NWS) which has partnered with the National Cherry Festival. In
addition to a presentation by the 84-year-old crime novelist from
Birmingham, MI, the event at the former Clinch Park Zoo will include a
dinner prepared by the Boathouse Restaurant and Bowers Harbor Vineyards.
Plus, everyone who attends will receive a complimentary book authored by
Author Doug Stanton (Horse Soldiers, In Harms Way), who heads up the
NWS, will be interviewing Leonard onstage for his second time around.
Elmore was our first guest in June 2009 and hes a real friend of the
National Writers Series, Stanton says. Since we created this new event
at the Cherry Festival this year, he seemed like the ideal guest, both for
avid readers and for visitors who want to experience a one-of-a-kind
With more than 100,000 people in town for the National Cherry Festival,
Stanton says theres sure to be strong interest in a cultural event on par
with Leonards appearance. They all read, and in addition to the
shopping, the beaches and the visits to our wineries, a lot of people want
something more to do than just going to the carnival.
With dozens of westerns, crime novels and films to his credit, Leonard is
on a roll these days. A film about bomb-making 60s radicals based on his
book, Freaky Deaky, began shooting in Detroit this week, and
Justified, the TV series based on three of his books is a big hit on the
Justified is hugely popular -- its based on his character U.S.
Marshall Raylan Givens and just won a Peabody Award, Stanton says.
Elmore writes terrific novels that are turned into great movies.
As for the rest of the season, Stanton and the NWS are bringing in some of
the brightest literary lights on the book scene today, with many
publishers and authors eager to participate in a new event-based way of
How are the authors selected?
So far, its basically people Ive met since Ive been writing full-time
since 1990, Stanton says. Its people Ive always admired or have met on
the writing trail.
He adds that this fall, the NWS is planning a multi-day event which will
focus on three themes: women & well-being, young adult literature, and
crime & thrillers. The event will also delve into narrative non-fiction,
inviting some of the best reporters in the country to attend, possibly
including Mark Bowden (Black Hawk Down), Hampton Sides (Ghost Soldiers,
Hellhound on His Trail), and Gay Talese (The Silent Season, Thy
Tickets for the Elmore Leonard event ($39.95 and $49.95) can be purchased
online at www.cherryfestival.org/events.
In addition to Elmore Leonard, this seasons lineup
for the National Writers Series includes:
July 21 -- Daniel Silva.
A world-class practitioner of spy fiction (Washington Post), Silva has
written over 10 best-selling espionage novels.
September 8 Gretchen Witt. After her son was diagnosed with pediatric
cancer, Witt started a bake sale to raise money. She will discuss The
Bake Sale Cookbooks and how she created a national movement.
September 15 Tom Perrota.
The author of Election, Little Children and the Abstinence Teacher,
Perrota has earned critical acclaim for his biting, empathetic novels
about American life.
October 20 Jeffrey Eugenides gained national attention for The Virgin
Suicides and with Middlesex in 2002. He will present his new book,
The Marriage Plot.
October 24 David Sedaris.
Author of collections of personal essays, including Naked, Me Talk
Pretty One Day, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, and When You
Are Engulfed in Flames. His newest book, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A
Modest Bestiary was published in September 2010 and immediately hit the
New York Times Bestseller List.
November 10 Chuck Klosterman, a long-time rock and sports reporter for
magazines including Spin, GQ, New York Times Magazine, Esquire, and the
Washington Post, has gained national attention for Fargo Rock City and
Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs.
Tickets for the Summer/Fall National Writers Season are on sale now at the
City Opera House box office or by phone at 231-941-8082.