Race Car Writers




At my writer’s group, I recently mentioned that reading one of our more gifted writer’s latest chapters was akin to driving a Corvette filled with cheap gasoline. I had expected to fly through the straightaways, but instead, the machine had sputtered.

This turned my mind toward other writers. Writers who don’t know me. Writers I can’t talk to. Writer’s who can’t throw a cup of tepid coffee in my face. What if these writers were cars? What kind of an auto would they be based upon their work? Here are a few examples:

 – Elmore Leonard

Reading Elmore Leonard is like driving a stripped down race car. Everything is all black exhaust, speed, and smoking rubber flying into the stands:

The church had become a tomb where forty-seven bodies turned to leather and stains had been lying on the concrete floor the past five years, though not lying where they had been shot with Kalashnikovs or hacked to death with machetes.

(Pagan Babies: 2000)

A little dialogue? Try this from Riding the Rap. Cop Raylan Givens is at an estate interviewing a thug who is posing as a gardener:

You see her every day?”

Two times, I just start to work here. You looking to buy this place?”

Why, is it for sale?”

I don’t know that.”

What’s the name of the nursing home?”

I forget.”

But you go there.”

Yeah, it’s by the hospital, that street there.”


Yeah, I think that’s it. Listen, I got all this work to do, okay?”

Raylan watched the guy turn and walk away, a pair of pruners on his belt at the hip, the same place Raylan carried his gun.


Maybe auto racing isn’t for you. You like comfort. Plush leather. Smooth rides. Frosty air conditioning on long desert highways, and blasting heat during midnight winter drives. You like a long, shiny car. You like a Cadillac. With fins.

– James Lee Burke is your writer:

Molly was sprinkling the flowers in the window boxes with a watering can when I got back to our cabin. To the south, rain was falling in the valley, and in the sunlight it looked like spun glass on the trees that grew along the slopes.

Swan Peak: 2008

This isn’t to say that pretty can’t be gritty:

Honoria’s eyes remained fixed on mine, expectant, somehow trusting, the redness of her mouth and the mole next to it as inviting as a poisonous flower.

Crusader’s Cross: 2005

– Stephen King

This your first automobile. Not your first new car. But that first used car you bought with a desperate fistful of wadded cash. The car you had to start with ether and then dash out the engine fire with a water hose. The car with brakes that might work if you pumped them just right. The car with the dubious steering and the wipers that failed in the rain. The car that always stranded you and your girlfriend, yet somehow always managed to get you to work each day.

From Firestarter: 1980

The world, although well-lighted with fluorescents and incandescent bulbs and neon, is still full of odd dark corners and unsettling nooks and crannies.

What car reminds you of a favorite author? Have you had any successful test drives with an undiscovered Indy author? What writer really drives you? I’d love to hear about it!

If you enjoyed this Email, would you please forward it to a friend? I’m trying to build my Email list, and sitting in front of liquor stores and saying, “Bro, could you join my list?” isn’t working. I have, however, acquired 36-cents in change and one King Cobra malt liquor. Vroom, vroom!


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