Evan Dorkin (evandorkin) wrote,
Evan Dorkin
evandorkin

R.I.P. Donald Westlake, Richard Stark, et al

Sarah just yelled upstairs to let me know they had a piece on NPR about Westlake's passing. I read the Dortmunder stuff before ever getting around to some of the Parker books, and enjoyed both series immensely. I've read a few of his non-series books as well, Westlake's just rock solid,  smart, tight, inventive writing and storytelling. He can do sledgehammer hardboiled and then flip it around and parody it, and hit the right notes and marks either way. Jimmy the Kid is a prime example of his inventiveness and playfulness, where he has the Dortmunder crew pattern  their latest (doomed) crime on a Parker novel (not an actual published Parker entry, iiirc).

Now that I recall it, I fell into Westlake/Dortmunder because of a DC project pitched at me by Andy Helfer that never got off the ground, sometime back in the very early 90's, it was a would-be JLA spin-off featuring some villain-types in a Dortmunder-style series of misadventures. I bought the books and the job never materialized, so I was out about $20, which I honestly couldn't afford at the time. Oh, well, then as now, ramen was dirt cheap (and about as nutritious), and the books were swell. 

ADDED: Now that I further recall it, I think my first encounter with Westlake/Dortmunder was when Jim Hanley lent me a copy of one of the Dortmunder paperbacks while I was spending a night on the couch at Jim Hanley's Universe, after yet another row with my parents. I know, this is all very fascinating.

I got into the Parker material only a few years ago, after talking it up for years the Lawgiver finally just gave me a few of the early volumes for a gift. I thought they were great. I still have a number of Parker books to wade through when time/availability allows, iirc they were not all in print or still aren't for whatever reason, or were at least difficult to track down a few years ago.

Westlake's one of those guys I just figured would be putting out another twenty books before he kicked. He certainly had a great run, though.  

Anyway, R.I.P. to him, and all the pseudonyms, as well.
Tags: r.i.p.
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  • 13 comments

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