Been reading Donald E. Westlake (aka Richard Stark aka Tucker Coe). Louis XIV over at Existential Ennui has an ongoing focus on the various editions of Westlake’s many novels. Also check out The Violent World of Parker.
Westlake is both a master hardboiled writer (as Stark) and an amusing comic novelist (under his own name). He wrote about 100 novels. This month I’ve read the following:
Bank Shot (1972) and the novella ‘Walking Around Money’ (2005) are parts of the Dortmunder series of comic heist capers. Very funny. Flashfire (2000) is a late Parker novel – taut, brisk, well-constructed, with a hilarious cameo appearance by the Christian Renewal Defense Force. Adios Scheherazade (1970) is a very rare non-crime novel based on Westlake’s days writing stuff like this -
Apart from its fascinating insights into the soft-core porn racket of the late 50s-early 60s, and some expected Westlake belly-laughs, Adios Scheherazade isn’t that great. I recently read Barry N. Malzberg’s Herovit’s World (1973) and it’s the same set-up. Westlake and Malzberg both did hackwork for the Scott Meredith Agency. Their plots are the same: after dozens of quickly-typed hack novels, a self-loathing author starts to crack up and cannot push through his current manuscript. His family life falls apart. With the wife gone, the man hits the streets and fucks a prostitute. The difference is that Malzberg’s protagonist writes schlocky (and asexual) science fiction. I preferred Herovit’s World. Edgier.
Anyway, Earl Kemp has a nice article on Adios Scheherazade and the soft-core racket called ‘Nobody Can Write This Shit Forever’. Lots of quotations.