This is (almost) it.

Hard Case Crime impresario Charles Ardai drops some knowledge at Rara-Avis.

> Oh, one other question: I guess this means there were no
> just-finished works left behind when [Donald Westlake] died?

No, no just-finished works. At the end of his life, Don was publishing
his books as quickly as he could write them. He’d finished two chapters
of a new Dortmunder, but that’s all.

I’ve received several e-mails since Westlake’s death asking if there were any unpublished Parker novels, or unfinished ones that a posthumous collaborator could complete. I guess this answers that question.

I have to admit that it feels a bit silly to obsess over unpublished Westlake when no one on the planet has read all of the published Westlake (except for maybe Ethan Iverson). But I had fantasies of a file cabinet filled with nearly-finished Parker novels, too.

Oh, well. Back to reality.

I’ve mentioned this on Twitter before, but now is a good time to highlight that Memory is not the only lost Westlake novel out there. There is at least one more, and Max Allan Collins has a copy.

[T]here is at least one major unpublished Westlake manuscript. In the ’80s, when we were exchanging letters frequently, he sent me a novel about a Bob Hope-type comedian who was kidnapped. It had been rejected several times because it wasn’t funny — it wasn’t supposed to be, but at that moment, a non-humorous Westlake novel (particularly one about a comedian) was not welcome. We discussed me doing a revision — I had a few ideas to streamline it and improve it that he liked — and he told me to go ahead, and we would split “anything we hauled to shore.” I was about to begin when Scorcese’s film THE KING OF COMEDY came out, and Don got hold of me and said to halt the project — he considered the book too similar. I believe he said it was “obsolete now.” I still have a copy, but haven’t re-read it yet. I remember liking it a lot. Maybe if MEMORY does well, this one can join Don’s distinguished list.

I think Memory is going to sell very well, so I’m going to go ahead and predict that we’ll be seeing this one in a year or two.

Update: Maybe there are a few more out there after all. Again, from Rara-Avis:

I know of two Westlake novels that have not seen the light of day. One an expanded version of his Redbook novella CALL ME A CAB and another entitled ICE about two brothers who inherit an ice factory from their dead father.

If anyone could make a book about an ice factory interesting, it would have been Don. Let’s hope this information is accurate and that these books eventually come out.

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