August 9, 2013

Meet Donald E. Westlake

 The 1999 film 'Payback' is based on the Parker series by Donald E. Westlake.

Donald Edwin Westlake (July 12, 1933 – December 31, 2008) was an American writer, with over a hundred novels and non-fiction books to his credit. He specialized in crime fiction, especially comic capers, with an occasional foray into science fiction or other genres. He was a three-time Edgar Award winner, one of only three writers (the others are Joe Gores and William L. DeAndrea) to win Edgars in three different categories (1968, Best Novel, God Save the Mark; 1990, Best Short Story, "Too Many Crooks"; 1991, Best Motion Picture Screenplay, The Grifters). In 1993, the Mystery Writers of America named Westlake a Grand Master, the highest honor bestowed by the society.
Excerpts from Ian Sansom's "The man with flawed-onyx eyes" (The Guardian, March 3, 2007):
Parker is truly frightening because he is so horribly familiar: callous, unable to feel guilt for his actions, completely lacking in empathy and incapable of learning from his own bitter experience, he is a kind of degenerate Everyman, the pulp-fiction counterpart of Philip Roth's morally crippled and contaminated heroes. "My subject," claims Westlake, "(unless I'm wrong about this) seems to be Bewilderment." Because we share this confusion, we admire and yearn for Parker's demented sense of purpose: he feels no embarrassment or shame about his dealings with the world; he is never careworn or afflicted; he is, in the way of all existential heroes and madmen, somehow stenchless, blameless and utterly free.
There are many facets to Westlake's talent - the short stories and the screenplays and all the books written under his own name, particularly those in the John Dortmunder series, which are some of the funniest crime novels ever written. The great impresario of crime fiction Otto Penzler - the renowned editor, publisher and proprietor of the Mysterious Bookshop in New York - rightly describes Westlake as "the most consistently humorous writer of mystery and crime fiction the world has ever seen."
Video Title: Meet Donald E. Westlake. Source: OpenRoadMediaVideos. Date Published: July 11, 2012. Description:
"Donald invented two different kinds of mystery. The comedy mystery and the really hard-boiled crime mystery" - Lawrence Block

Donald Edwin Westlake (1933-2008) wrote over a hundred novels and nonfiction books. He won three Edgar Awards and was named a Grand Master of the Mystery Writers of America. Twenty of his novels were adapted as films.

In this short video, fellow authors Brian Garfield, Otto Penzler, Lawrence Block, and William Link speak about Westlake's contribution to the mystery genre.
Donald Westlake Interview (1994).