In memoriam: Brian Garfield

A lousy photo of some of my collection.

I believe the first time I corresponded with Brian Garfield was when I was seeking a copy of, and permission to scan and post, his unfilmed screenplay for Butcher’s Moon.

He gave me permission, but couldn’t find the manuscript. It was written before hard drives and cloud storage and all of that stuff, so the paper manuscript was all there was. He thought it might be in the vaults of some studio (Paramount, I think), but good luck with that one. But he looked for his copy, with full intention of getting it to me. I believe he concluded that it was lost in a flooding incident.

So me reprinting the Butcher’s Moon script never happened. But what I got out of our interactions was that he was a really nice guy, and he really appreciated his fans. Maybe he didn’t need to appreciate his fans–I imagine the movie rights and residuals for Death Wish and sequels made him some good bucks, with no future need to interact. But he did appreciate them, very much. His e-mail address was always on his personal page, and if you wrote to it, he would reply back, often at (always interesting) length.

My main interaction with him after my failed attempt to acquire a copy of that screenplay wasn’t really an interaction at all. I put Levi Stahl (The Getaway Car) in touch with him. Levi was working on the Parker reprints for University of Chicago Press at the time. Levi really didn’t need my help–as I wrote above, Brian was always accessible–but maybe I greased the skids a little bit. One of the results was this must-read interview about Brian Garfield’s friendship with Donald Westlake. If you haven’t read it, read it. If you have, read it again.

Brian Garfield was a hell of a writer and, from every indication I had in our limited relationship, a hell of a human being. Lost to Parkinson’s Disease at 79 (I hate that disease almost as much as I hate Alzheimer’s).

Rest in peace, and God bless Brian’s family and friends in their time of loss.


I had no idea until I read it in an obituary, but apparently Brian Garfield was a man of many talents. He was a member of the Palisades, who had a top-40 hit with “I Can’t Quit.” This song, like his fiction, is right up my alley.