Friday, January 02, 2009

Donald Westlake 1933-2008

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.


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