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The widening gyre
January 19, 2010 11:30 AM   Subscribe

Robert B. Parker, prolific crime-novel author, creator of Spenser, Sunny Randall, and Virgil Cole, among others, has died with his boots on.
posted by PsychoTherapist (44 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by RussHy at 11:32 AM on January 19, 2010


I had the news yesterday from an old friend of mine who works with his talent agency. It's been interesting to watch the news percolate through the Internet, first through blogs, then to Wikipedia, and finally to the news media. My local library database had updated his entry with a year of death even before the news hit the Globe. Go figure.
posted by PsychoTherapist at 11:32 AM on January 19, 2010


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posted by Joe Beese at 11:32 AM on January 19, 2010


Oh and: .
posted by PsychoTherapist at 11:32 AM on January 19, 2010


Does that mean we write rude things on his corpse? Oh, wrong idiom.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:36 AM on January 19, 2010


One of my favorite authors ever. Got to meet him several years ago. Genuinely nice guy.

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posted by jbickers at 11:37 AM on January 19, 2010


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posted by usonian at 11:42 AM on January 19, 2010


. Indeed.
A great guy, a wonderful mystery writer.
I should be so lucky to have his lasting success.
Going to start a Spencer book tonight in his honor.
posted by willmize at 11:49 AM on January 19, 2010


The only fan letter I ever wrote was to Parker. I was thrilled when he sent me a personal response.
posted by maurice at 11:51 AM on January 19, 2010


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I went on a Spenser kick a few years ago. They were a pretty fun read, and I almost never read detective series novels.
posted by Cookiebastard at 11:54 AM on January 19, 2010


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He's become my favorite author - I just discovered his Spenser books a couple months ago and have started at the first book and have worked my way through them all.

So sad!
posted by TurquoiseZebra at 12:04 PM on January 19, 2010


Parker wrote some of the best dialogue, and I always enjoyed his Spenser novels a great deal.

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posted by maxwelton at 12:05 PM on January 19, 2010


I don't believe I've ever done this on the blue, but...

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Damn. I've read every book of his religiously for years. Dialog and characterization so perfect that the plot was almost irrelevant, though still pretty good. Will be sorely missed.
posted by Aversion Therapy at 12:14 PM on January 19, 2010


My wife is a fan, I keep meaning to read his stuff but never got around to it.

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posted by sotonohito at 12:19 PM on January 19, 2010


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posted by Halloween Jack at 12:30 PM on January 19, 2010


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posted by josher71 at 12:37 PM on January 19, 2010


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posted by Fuzzy Monster at 12:38 PM on January 19, 2010


I waited on him once many years ago when I worked in Cambridge. He was a lovely man.
posted by miss tea at 12:39 PM on January 19, 2010


Bummer. Maybe this will inspire me to get to the Jesse Stone books -- I've only seen the excellent TV movie versions, which Tom Selleck has made in a very Parkerish tone that the author himself apparently approved of.
posted by FelliniBlank at 12:46 PM on January 19, 2010


Spenser, Susan, Hawk, Henry and all the rest, I'm going to miss you guys!
posted by dolface at 12:58 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Damn, I just finished the last Spenser book and the Young Spenser novella not last week.

This must have been what it felt like when John D. MacDonald died. I remember years later reading the Lonely Silver Rain and being angry that JDM died when he did.

With Parker I'm not angry, but I still want to know what happens with Spenser.

A few years ago when I purged a bunch of books before a move I couldn't get rid of The Godwulf Manuscript, A Catskill Eagle or Judas Goat.
posted by drewbage1847 at 1:08 PM on January 19, 2010


Good comparison with MacDonald, drewbage1847. I think I will read through those guys once Spring comes.
posted by wenestvedt at 1:20 PM on January 19, 2010


I know it may just be a lingering memory of Florida as a kid, but I still try to read all 21 of the McGee novels every summer.
posted by drewbage1847 at 1:24 PM on January 19, 2010


Holy shit.

He's always been one of my favorites. I started reading his books when I was still in high school, in Boston, and whenever I get a little homesick I go back a re-read a few. As I've gotten older, Spenser sometimes makes me impatient - he's so self-contained, so controlled, knows himself so well, that he's almost not human. But how else can a hero be?

Thanks for so many amazing years of reading.

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posted by rtha at 1:36 PM on January 19, 2010


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posted by mygothlaundry at 1:45 PM on January 19, 2010


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I am truly sorry there will be no more Spenser or Jesse Stone novels. Parker's books have always given me a really nostalgic feeling, both for the Boston and environs setting, as it is where I grew up, and because of the echoes in his work of Hemingway (hard drinking he men), Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. He also seems to have been a really nice man.
posted by bearwife at 1:45 PM on January 19, 2010


Thanks for Spenser, thanks for Hawk, thanks for hours and hours of enjoyment.

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posted by qldaddy at 1:49 PM on January 19, 2010


Aw, too bad. Good stuff of its kind, as they say, which isn't to put it down, it's just to catalog it with the other tough-guy detective fiction where it sites near the top.

I just recently finished reading the first 30 Spenser novels one after the other. Good stuff for reading, though I also found it interesting from lexicographer's and a forensic linguist's point of view. For example, he was able (or willing) to use coarser language in the later books. Across the decades, it's like watching the loosening of popular culture as restrictions on what was allowed in text were slowly removed. He also used the same set phrases and descriptions repeatedly, like the one about the mutt dogs that had interbred so much that they'd gone back to being the Ur-dog. And the cordovan shoes! I swear in every one of the books there was someone wearing cordovan shoes. There were dozens of these writerly tics.

On the slim hope that it might be anywhere as good, I downloaded the first of the Spenser television episodes. Terrible, terrible stuff. But there was one highlight: a tiny, young Seth Green is in it.
posted by Mo Nickels at 1:50 PM on January 19, 2010


I downloaded the first of the Spenser television episodes. Terrible, terrible stuff.

You're watching it wrong.

1. It's a document of 80's storytelling. It's camp. High camp. Starting with the fact that Spenser and Hawk average about 2.5 killings per episode and the cops only care enough to say things like "tell your friend Hawk that I want to talk to him."

2. Avery Brook's Hawk is a magnificent portrayal of a character that could easily be one dimensional. Hawk is the most incredible bad-ass on TV*. Did you see the episode where he kills Patricia Clarkson in the Harvard boathouse?

3. It is 80's Boston, when the city was still sort of gritty, trapped in amber. My daughter is going to watch that show so I can say stuff like "See how Park Station looked back then? And it reeked like pee."

I read a lot of Parker's stuff including about 25 Spenser books. And it was such smooth reading. However, it was kind of interchangeable. On a few occasions I read a couple of chapters before I realized I had already read that book. But I'll definitely miss him.

My favorite Hawk line: Hawk went out to get evidence to use against a crooked professor. He came back with the professor's appointment book. Susan said "Well, he's definitely going to miss that." Hawk shot back "He gonna miss his front door, too."
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:15 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by kaiseki at 2:15 PM on January 19, 2010


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posted by ElDiabloConQueso at 3:01 PM on January 19, 2010


And the other Robert Parker yet lives! The Grim Reaper needs to double-check his to-do list and make sure he took the right one
posted by briank at 3:13 PM on January 19, 2010


A sweet obituary from the LA Times.
posted by bearwife at 4:01 PM on January 19, 2010


Just this year I began re-reading Parker and couldn't stop reading until I had finished every book of his in the new or used bookstores locally. Reading Spenser for me is like reading the Harry Potter novels were the year my Father died. They work. Sometimes they are all I want to read. Should we celebrate some good mystery writing? We'd be fools not to.
posted by Hobgoblin at 4:21 PM on January 19, 2010


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posted by box at 4:51 PM on January 19, 2010


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posted by jquinby at 5:23 PM on January 19, 2010


My wife always asks how I can read Parker's books over and over. I've never been able to adequately explain how it is like visiting with an old friend. R.I.P.
posted by spacely_sprocket at 6:20 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have ever single Parker book. Of all his characters Hawk remains my favorite whether in print or in the TV series....


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posted by bjgeiger at 6:26 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I just finished "Double Play" yesterday, and was thinking about writing him a letter.

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posted by Snyder at 7:23 PM on January 19, 2010


When I was a kid I used to snitch them from my folks when we were on vacation and fly through them, reveling in the grown-upness (to me) of the dialogue.

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posted by desuetude at 7:27 PM on January 19, 2010


Whenever a new Robert B. Parker novel came out I'd put aside whatever I was currently reading, blow off my to-do list and read the thing straight through that afternoon.

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posted by zanni at 10:34 PM on January 19, 2010


I inherited my brother's collection of Spenser novels, and a few years ago read The Godwulf Manuscript. And I was hooked. Now, it seems like every third book I read is a Spenser novel. Very sad.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 10:45 AM on January 20, 2010


Damn - we lost one of the good ones. I read all of the Spenser books back in the day and they were a great read. This year I found the second Appaloosa book, Resolution, in the library and devoured it in a day. Hitch and Cole were every bit worthy of the same praise as Spenser and Hawk.
posted by Ber at 11:04 AM on January 20, 2010


Whenever a new Robert B. Parker novel came out I'd put aside whatever I was currently reading, blow off my to-do list and read the thing straight through that afternoon.

I did the same thing. I'll miss Spenser dearly.
posted by GatorDavid at 1:06 PM on January 20, 2010


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