Who the hell is this guy, and what the hell is he doing here?

Well after Trent’s kind but typically pithy introduction—nice touch with the poster for The Limey, sir—it seems only right and proper that I step up and say hello myself, in a rather more prolix fashion (as is my wont, as you’ll soon learn).

Some of you will already know me from my meandering musings on my own blog, Existential Ennui. I’ve been blogging for something like five or six years now, but it’s only in the last couple of years that Existential Ennui has found a focus, namely books, book-collecting, and comics. Generally I cover genre fiction—crime, espionage, science fiction (although I do occasionally wander into more literary fields)—with an emphasis on book and cover design, matters to do with book-collecting (first editions and whatnot), plus the occasional review and even more occasional (er, one, thus far) interview. And over the last year-and-a-half a good number of posts have focused on Donald E. Westlake—primarily the Richard Stark side of Westlake’s oeuvre, but other stuff too—which is how mine and Trent’s paths crossed.

Remarkably, given the, quite possibly, millions of word I’ve posted on my site, I do have a life beyond the blogosphere, out there in what we tentatively refer to as “the real world.” Currently I’m managing editor at Ilex Press, an illustrated and pop culture books publisher based in Lewes in the south of England (I do a bit of blogging for Ilex, too), and prior to that I was senior editor at London pop culture and graphic novels publisher Titan Books—who, in a strangely circuitous piece of happenstance, are now the home of Hard Case Crime, publishers of some of Westlake’s work. (There was an eight-year stint as a music journalist before that, but I can barely remember most of it, and anyway dwelling on it would only offer further clues as to my age.)

In short, then, I’ve been around the block a few times. But why, I hear you cry, am I now blogging on Trent’s utterly essential and frequently brilliant Violent World of Parker site? And what exactly will I be doing here? Let’s take the first question, well, first.

Essentially, I bloody love Westlake. I’ve only been writing about him for a relatively short period of time, but in that time my appreciation of his work has only increased. For me, Westlake holds a unique position in the crime fiction pantheon, combining a prolific output with gripping storytelling, clever plotting, deft and witty characterization, and a quietly audacious proclivity for formal and structural risk-taking which set him apart from the majority of his peers—and indeed the majority of his inheritors. He was a restless creative spirit, forever trying out new things, even in the series (Parker, Dortmunder, etc.) for which he became best known. There’s always something new to say about Westlake, and that’s what I’ll be attempting to do on this blog.

Which brings me to the second question: what I’ll be doing here on The Violent World of Parker. I hesitate to say “pretty much what I’ve been doing on my own blog,” but, well: pretty much what I’ve been doing on my own blog. Basically I’ll be importing wholesale the various Westlake-related strands I’ve been following on Existential Ennui, such as my Westlake Scores, wherein I detail the various editions of the great man’s books I’ve managed to track down (many of them obviously UK editions); my Parker Progress Reports and Grofield Files, which are ongoing reviews of the Richard Stark novels; my similarly styled Dortmunder Daze posts; and then things like my recent series on Westlake’s science fiction magazine stories, of which I’ve got a handful more to cover.

But I’ll also be trying out some new ideas, too, both on a Westlake tip—including a planned series on that late-’60s/early-’70s period when Westlake was at his most formally daring—and also along more general crime fiction lines. Doubtless there’ll be some crossover in all this with what Trent’s already got on The Violent World of Parker, but I’ll hopefully be finding new angles even when there’s some duplication. And of course Trent himself will still be here, posting all the latest Westlake news, reviews, links, and whatever else he conjures up.

So all that remains is for me to thank Trent for allowing me to sully his fine blog, and to point out that bringing me on board was all his daft idea, not mine, so, y’know: if you don’t like what you read, blame him, not me. (You can, however, contact me via Violent World by clicking my name just below Trent’s down on the right there.) And let’s start as we mean to go on with a Westlake Score!

My name is Nick Jones, and I am a Westlake addict.

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