John Banville on Parker

University of Chicago Press (2009) front

Since the second batch of University of Chicago Parker reprints, with forewards by John Banville, have now been released, it’s worth revisiting Banville’s 2006 article on the Parker novels for Slate:

Two of the greatest writers of the 20th century are Georges Simenon-I am not thinking of the Maigret books, which I have not read, but of what he called his “hard novels,” such as Dirty Snow and Tropic Moon-and Richard Stark, real name Donald Westlake-if there is such a thing as a real name. Indeed, Westlake, born in New York in 1933, works under a clutch of pseudonyms, though it was as Donald Westlake that he wrote the masterly screenplay for Stephen Frears’ 1990 movie The Grifters, in turn based on the novel of the same name by another master of the dark fictional arts, Jim Thompson. Stark has won numerous writing awards and holds the rather splendid title of Grand Master of the Mystery Writers of America. His Parker books, the best of which were written in the early 1960s, are unique in the genre of crime fiction; in fact, they form a genre all their own.

Read the whole thing.

Interesting that he likes The Jugger so much, seeing as Westlake didn’t care for it.

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