Friday, April 22, 2011

Garry Disher's Wyatt comes to America

Parker is Richard Stark's professional thief, Wyatt is Garry Disher's.

Similarities between the two protagonists are obvious, including everything from their names to their personalities to the targets of their heists to the titles of the books. And, though Disher has paid amusing tribute to Stark, the influence may extend from Disher as well as to him.

My posts on the subject in this blog's early days drew passionate comments from some Australian readers angry at what one called a "cultural cringe" — excessive imitation by the Australian Disher of an American source. Disher himself weighed in on my Parker/Wyatt questions, though his comments seem to have disappeared from the State Library of Victoria's Web site. (No conspiracy need be inferred. He posted the comments four years ago, and they may have been removed to clear space.)

If I recall correctly, Disher said he wanted Wyatt to be a more fully rounded character than Parker. Indeed, the fifth Wyatt novel, Port Vila Blues, has Wyatt displaying remorse, which Parker never did.

American readers will soon get their chance to meet Wyatt; Soho Press is publishing the seventh and latest novel in the series, called simply Wyatt. A first glance at the book finds Wyatt sizing up a potential human obstacle to a heist, much as Stark often had Parker do, but with a good deal more psychological analysis than Parker was given to. One way is not necessarily better than the other, but it's good to find differences between two protagonists in many ways so similar.

Wyatt follows Disher's previous Wyatt book, The Fallout, by thirteen years. The series' resumption after a long layoff may remind readers of another crime series.
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© Peter Rozovsky 2011

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4 Comments:

Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter

Disher won the Ned Kelly Award for Wyatt but I thought it was a bit of a feeble effort. Very much a throwback to a way of writing that was in vogue in the 80's. His attempts to portray booming Melbourne and the filthy rich Mornington Peninsula as hotbeds of blue collar crime were, to my mind, somewhat strained. I did like his depiction of the Melbourne police as lazy and incompetent - that seems right on the money.

April 23, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Well, I've barely started Wyatt; let's see how it turns out.

If the novel has much to say about police, by the way, this would be another departture from Richard Stark and Parker.

April 23, 2011  
Blogger Crosby Kenyon said...

It's difficult for writers to be original, almost impossible. They're always "borrowing" from one another. It's inevitable. Even the hybrids are getting worn out. Still, good writing is good writing. As long as you can get the reader to care about a character, you have it made.

April 23, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

You’re right. But the Wyatt/Parker question is no mere matter of one writer showing the influence of another -- as, indeed, Donald Westlake (Richard Stark) himself acknowledged Dashiell Hammett’s influence. Disher liked to play literary games, and the Wyatt/Parker thing is one more of those , at least at the start of the series.

April 23, 2011  

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