John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton
jheaton

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Ten random things: January 9

Ten books by Donald E. Westlake:

  1. The Hot Rock
  2. Wax Apple (as Tucker Coe)
  3. Anarchos (as Curt Clark)
  4. Comfort Station (as J. Morgan Cunningham)
  5. Elizabeth Taylor: A Fascinating Story of America's Most Talented Actress and the World's Most Beautiful Woman (as John B. Allan)
  6. The Sour Lemon Score (as Richard Stark)
  7. Ex Officio (as Timothy J. Culver)
  8. The Fourth Dimension is Death (as Samuel Holt)
  9. Campus Doll (as Edwin West)
  10. Good Behavior

So Greg asked me the other day, "no mention of Westlake's passing?" I did mention it over on my Facebook page (friend me!) but didn't say anything about it here. Until now! Westlake wrote more than 100 books over the course of his career, more than half of which were published under pseudonyms. Other than one of his Parker novels, I've only read books written under his own name. Of those, my favorites were his Dortmunder books -- a series of comic caper novels about a professional burglar whose plans aft gang agley. The novels that bookend this list are both Dortmunders, specifically the ones I like best. The Hot Rock and Good Behavior are both extremely funny; I've been going back and forth here trying to figure out which is funnier, but I can't decide. They're both comic masterpieces, in my opinion. There's one more Westlake novel yet to come: a Dortmunder caper called Get Real, which is due to be released in July.

It must be said, however, that not everything Westlake touched turned to gold: he he shared the "story by" credit on the pilot for the notorious flop Supertrain, which was so expensive to produce and so unbearable to watch that it almost bankrupted NBC. Because of that story credit, he ended up being credited as co-creator in the credits each week. More successfully, he wrote the screenplay for the pilot for The Father Dowling Mysteries, which was one of my mom's favorite series (I liked it too; Tracy Nelson was quite the hot nun). He was also nominated for an Oscar for his adaptation of The Grifters.

Incidentally, the fourth book listed above contains the cover blurb: "I wish I had written this book!–Donald E. Westlake." Nice.

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