Friday, January 02, 2009
Crime author Donald Westlake, the pen behind the Dortmunder and Parker crime series' of novels, died two days ago at the age of 75. Mr. Westlake was also a screenwriter, with credits like "The Stepfather" and "The Grifters." I've read several of his books over the years, and I always found Westlake (or Stark, one of his many aliases) to have a sinister take on human nature. A lot of good comedy comes from that kind of a writer- dark and ruthless laughs at the expense of some very human characters.
If you've never read anything by the man, I suggest you pick up The Hot Rock
- the first novel featuring Westlake's down-on-his-luck pessimistic burglar John Dortmunder. Imagine if you and your group of friends tried your hand at crime. That's kind of what the Dortmunder series feels like- great characters suffering lots of screw-ups along the way. You can tell by reading his work that Westlake had a lot of fun. Here's to a life lived well.