Friday, January 02, 2009

A bit more about Donald Westlake

Can I say just one more thing about the man? Or three or four?

Here's a post I made a year ago about Westlake's occasional tendency to jump the boundaries between series. Here's one delicious way he solved the problem of sustaining interest in a long-running series. Here's a bit about the fine Australian author Garry Disher and his fascination with Parker.

And here's just a touch of Dortmunder sneaking into a Parker book, Dirty Money:

"`You kill a lawman,' [Parker] said, `you're in another zone. McWhitney and I are gonna have to work this out.'

"`But not on the phone.'

"Parker yawned. `Nothing on the phone ever,' he said. `Except pizza.'"
© Peter Rozovsky 2009

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Blogger Loren Eaton said...

I'm very sad to hear that Westlake passed. I have truly enjoyed the Dortmunder novels.

January 02, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

It's a sad irony, perhaps, that what will apparently be Westlake's last book is another comic caper, a Dortmunder novel called Get Real, due later this year. From what I read about the book, the title is especially apt.

January 02, 2009  
Blogger seanag said...

I'm somewhat embarrassed to say that I have not read Westlake. I am not sure whether the following memory atones somewhat for this, or just makes the whole thing worse. My whole family had a sort of lovefest with the movie made of The Hot Rock when it came out in 1972. I think we even went to it more than once. For all I know, it doesn't even compare to the book, but it says something I think when a whole family can go to a movie and each member can get their own enjoyment out of it.

Thinking about it now, I realize that the reason I have never read Westlake is that I'm afraid that the books could not actually live up to that nostalgic memory.

January 02, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seanag, trust me: With Westlake, the books are always better than the movies, and some of the movies are pretty good (Hot Rock, both movies of The Hunter, though the Lee Marvin version is more faithful to the book than the Mel Gibson version). John Dortmunder is in no way a Robert Redford type, but the thing that threw me about the movie of The Hot Rock is that Dortmunder and company have to steal the gem three times. In the book, they have to steal it six times, so the movie just kind of ended in the middle for me. Not a bad movie, though.

I only started reading Westlake a few years ago, and I must that any family that went to see Westlake movies is a pretty cool family.

January 02, 2009  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...


I'd go farther than you I think. Both book and film are excellent. Lee Marvin is outstanding. In fact Boorman's version of the Hunter is one of the best films of the 60's. I wont even mention the other one.

January 03, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I'd probably agree that the Boorman movie is outstanding if I had not read the Stark/Westlake novel first. I'm not sure any movie could adequately capture the novel's stripped-down texture.

There's nothing wrong with the movie you won't mention other than that it's a good, routine action story -- not at all Westlake. Leaving aside for a moment how the person whose name you won't mention went about making the changes that he did, those changes are pretty easy to analyze. They were all in the interest of making the story more sentimental, the protagonist more sympathetic, and the story more conventional. He didn't exactly ruin the story, he routinized it, if I can make up a word.

January 03, 2009  

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