1.01.2009

Donald E. Westlake dies

Word comes from the NY Times and others that genius mystery writer Donald E. Westlake has died at age 75. He was one of my very favorite authors, a true hero of mine. I love the Dortmunder books and other comic novels he wrote under his own name, and I really love the Parker novels he wrote as Richard Stark. Both have been a huge influence on my writing.

One of the highlights of my career so far was sitting on a panel at Bouchercon in Monterey between Westlake and Lawrence Block. I'd published two or three books at that point, and was definitely the newbie on the panel, but the others (the panel also included Lawrence Shames and the late George Chesbro) were gracious and kind to me. It was enough for me to breathe the same air as Westlake, much less speak with him.

Another time, I made a point of finding him at the Edgars and chatting him up like the sweaty fanboy that I was. A little guy with a goatee joined us, saying, "Hi, Don." It was Ira Levin. I slipped away quietly and left the two great ones to talk among themselves.

Westlake will be missed, not least of all by me.

2 comments:

Jon Lewis said...

I agree, Steve. That guy was a classic.

Here's a link to the NY Times obit:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/02/books/02westlake.html?th&emc=th

I suggest reading "The Ax" to see a writer at the top of his game. I've got a paperback copy I'm willing to share.

Cheers,
Jon

Larry said...

I just read my first Westlake (short story that is).