Fourth (fourteenth?) anniversary

102 - The Comedy is Finished by Donald Westlake

Lots of stuff going on in my so-called “real life” at the moment, so this post is late and a bit more perfunctory than last year’s. But I did want to mark the anniversary, even if it is late.

As I’ve mentioned before, I think of the real anniversary of the current VWOP as being the date of Donald Westlake’s death, December 31, 2008, because that’s what caused me to get off my posterior and revamp the crude original version. The actual birthday of VWOP is lost to the mists of time, but it was sometime in late 1998 or maybe early ’99, crudely done as “The Parker Page.” But January 31, 2009 was the relaunch, so that’s the date we’ll use because I don’t want to write anniversary posts during the holidays. If you’d like to read more about the history of the site, let me send you to last year’s post.

It’s too bad I don’t have more time to devote to this post, because this was a big year for fans of Parker, Donald Westlake, and crime fiction.

So let’s hit at least hit the highlights. Please tell me anything I missed in the comments.

Donald Westlake’s legacy seems in no danger of dying, thank goodness. There were some major events in the past year:

The Comedy is Finished

The first unpublished Donald Westlake novel recovered from the vaults was Memory, a near masterpiece (and it’s possible I should drop the modifier “near.”) The second one didn’t hit that level, but it’s a damn good book that any fan should want to read. My review is here.

There are still at least two unpublished novels out there!

Richard Stark’s Parker: The Score by Darwyn Cooke

Darwyn Cooke continues his masterful series of adaptations of Parker novels with maybe the best one yet. I just realized I never gave this one a proper review (my life has been crazier than usual lately, and that’s saying something), but esteemed co-blogger Nick and I did get the high honor of interviewing Darwyn about the book, all things Parker, and lots of other things. It was a blast, Darwyn is a gentleman, and if you haven’t picked up his brilliant adaptations yet, what are you waiting for?

I was supposed to mention this a couple of weeks ago but forgot. Here is IDW Publishing’s new page for their Parker series. I have added it to the links section in the sidebar. Pretty nifty.

The Grofield series comes back into print

The wonderful folks at the University of Chicago Press, who have reprinted most of the Parker novels (and hope to do the rest), brought all four of the spinoff Alan Grofield series into print digitally, and three of the four in dead tree editions (Lemons Never Lie was already in print from Hard Case Crime). They also released a tie-in edition of Flashfire to coincide with the movie, and this terrific Parker character guide. I have also added this to the side bar.

Parker the movie

This one didn’t go so well, in my opinion, but others liked it more than I did. I linked what I think is a good cross-section of thoughts at the bottom of my post, although I was only interested in opinions from other Parker enthusiasts so I didn’t link to any regular old film critics. The comments section was lively.

I was honestly a bit surprised that a number of readers did enjoy the movie. I’ll check it out again when I add the Blu-ray to my Parker films collection, and write a re-assesment if I think it deserves it.

Max Allan Collins’ Nolan series comes back into print

Max Allan Collins’ Nolan starred in a series of Parker pastiches (also inspired by Ennis Willie’s Sand series). The first two volumes Blood Money and Bait Money have been in print as a twofer from Hard Case Crime under the title Two for the Money. The rest of the series was restored to print this year through Perfect Crime Books, who have also reprinted a number of volumes in MAC’s Quarry series.

The Violent World of Parker has posted two out of three in a series of pieces by Dan Luft giving an overview of the Nolan series (here and here). I hope to have part three up shortly. It was supposed to be this week, but it looks right now like I’m barely going to have time to breathe until a week from today, so it may have to wait (sorry again, Dan!).

The Future

So what’s coming up? In addition to part three of the Nolan overview, I’m hoping to finish my series on Donald Westlake’s sleaze catalog. And I’ve got two other great guest posts that I hope to deploy soon. As with Mr. Luft’s work on the Nolan series, they are great pieces and the writers should probably hate me for keeping them embargoed for so long. They will be worth the wait, for the readers if not the writers.

And, as always, I have a hundred other things I’d like to get to, at least three of which I probably will!

We will likely see less of esteemed co-blogger Nick for at least a few months. (Don’t worry; it’s for good reasons.) I know you all appreciate his contributions as much as I do, so we’ll treasure what we do get. Let me once again give him a hearty thanks.

On behalf of Nick and myself, let me again thank our many deeply loyal readers and commenters. And if you’re a reader but not a commenter, quit being so shy!

Happy 2013, everybody. I hope your year is blessed.