Review: Richard Stark, Ask The Parrot

Richard Stark, Ask The ParrotWhen Donald Westlake invented Parker, the iron-cold thief protagonist of the series Westlake writes under the pen name Richard Stark, he didn’t know that Parker would be one of the noir genre’s most enduring creations. If he had, he’d have given Parker a first name. But Parker has been just fine without one through 23 novels. What’s important about him isn’t who he is, but what he does: He steals, and survives the aftermath. Under his real name, Westlake writes lighthearted comic caper novels, often about luckless burglar John Dortmunder. Stark offers colder, bloodier, and more psychologically tense tales—if Westlake takes after Dashiell Hammett’s The Thin Man, Stark takes after Red Harvest. At its heart, the Parker series is about professionalism, and a man utterly ruthless in pursuit of his job.

Originally published on Nov. 30, 2006. Read the complete article.

Interview: Donald E. Westlake (a.k.a. Richard Stark)

Donald E. WestlakeCrime novelist Donald Westlake is a man of many aliases—Samuel Holt, Tucker Coe, Curt Clark, pseudonyms picked up over the course of 100-odd published books—but two names stand out, his own and Richard Stark. As Westlake, he mostly writes comic caper novels, notably his half-dozen books about luckless criminal John Dortmunder. As Stark, he’s created one of the noir genre’s most definitive antiheroes in the cold-hearted master thief Parker. His books have been filmed many times, including the well-regarded Point Blank in 1967, and he was nominated for an Oscar for his 1990 adaptation of Jim Thompson’s The Grifters. His latest book is a new Stark novel, Ask The Parrot, which picks up Parker on the run from the law after the disastrous bank heist of the previous Nobody Runs Forever. Recently, Westlake talked with The A.V. Club about making it up as he goes, getting into his characters, and the crooks who read his books.

Originally published on Nov. 16, 2006. Read the complete article.

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