February 3, 2021
As the second installment in my blog posts leading up to Super Bowl LV, I thought we could look at something near and dear to library users. Can we compare authors from Florida and Missouri and decide who has the better scribes?
Although he wasn’t born in Florida, Elmore Leonard lived there and set many of his novels in Florida, including the Edgar Award-winner, LaBrava. One of my favorite books (and movies) from Elmore Leonard is Get Shorty, and Be Cool is right up there too. Leonard is a great storyteller, and I really enjoy his work.
If I was going to put someone up against Leonard from Kansas City, I think I’d go with Gillian Flynn. Her three most popular mystery thrillers all have settings in Missouri, including Dark Places, which takes place all around Kansas City. Like Elmore Leonard, Flynn has a great book-to-movie adaptation—Gone Girl. Of course, the HBO series based on the book Sharp Objects is pretty incredible too.
I met Gillian Flynn, and she came to some of our library’s anniversary events a few years ago. I never met Elmore Leonard, so I think I would give the nod to Flynn in this competition.
Finding Missouri as her retirement home, Laura Ingalls Wilder is often considered a Missouri author, even though most of her stories are set elsewhere. I’m not sure I was Laura Ingalls Wilder’s target audience, but I have read Little House in the Big Woods (thanks to a children’s literature class I took). Honestly, I like Judy Blume’s writing better.
I’m not sure if this counts or not, but Judy Blume lives in Key West. Consequently, I’d consider her a Florida author. I must admit, I’m likely not her target audience either, but I did read a few of her books in my children’s literature class, including Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. Judy Blume is a great writer and was very important to a generation of young people, so I’ll give this round to her!
My go-to when naming Kansas City authors is cheating a bit—I will always go to Ernest Hemingway. Some don’t know, but he got his early professional start at the Kansas City Star and has credited some of his process to the style learned in the newsroom. It is very hard to think of Hemingway and not think of him sailing in the Florida Straits or his six-toed cats in Key West, but as a writer, the foundation for The Old Man and the Sea and For Whom the Bell Tolls, I will argue, was built in Kansas City. You can’t build a house without a firm foundation! Therefore, I’m putting Hemingway in the Kansas City column.
That makes the final score of this challenge two for KC and one for Tampa Bay. I think Sunday’s game might also see KC score two for each of Tampa Bay’s one.
Steven V. Potter
MCPL Director and CEO