Thursday, January 01, 2009

Another Hero Gone!

I've just learned from Bill Crider's blog that the Mystery Community has lost another master. Donald Westlake, creator of the "Parker" novels as well as the "Dortmunder" comic-capers passed away on New Year's Eve.

My strongest memory of Don Westlake is from the first time I met him in person, at the Seattle Bouchercon in 1994 where he moderated a panel on Laughter. He shared the podium with Marissa Piesman, Taylor McCafferty, Parnell Hall, and a newcomer to the mystery world, S.J. Rozan, whose first novel had just come out.

Parnell had laryngitis, and to compensate he brought a cream pie (gasping that without a voice he was stuck with visual humor). He hinted that the pie was destined for Don's face. But as the suspense built, Don elbowed Parnell, and the pie wound up on Parnell's face.

I have an MP3 recording of that panel, and if I can figure out how to do it, I'll post it on this blog.

I'll also remember Donald Westlake for the stories he and Lawrence Block would tell about their apprentice years pumping out soft-core porn novels in the early sixties.

Farewell Don. You brought this reader a lot of smiles. I have a feeling you're still laughing up there somewhere.

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