Donald Westlake's passing this past December inspired a large number of respectful obituaries, fond tributes, and humorous anecdotes. And justifiably so; he was a true master of the genre who could have used his prodigious output to shake the MWA for three Grandmaster Awards: one for Donald Westlake, one for Richard Stark, and one for a the goofy pen name he could have used for the Dortmunder books. It would have been a joke that I'm sure he would have enjoyed hugely
The closest I have to a Westlake anecdote is more about editorial myopia. Back in 1997, when Westlake brought back Parker (yippie!) in Comeback, I was doing a very small amount of freelance writing for a would-be Details. I pitched my editor what I still think is my best-ever book review idea: an "interview" with the monosyllabic Parker that would end with him breaking my arm or something. He said no. "Too obscure" were his very words.
Two weeks later, Comeback received a full page review in that renowned journal of the obscure and idiosyncratic, Time.
However, there is much Westlake that is truly "too obscure" for all but the fanatics. Next up: a look at some of his earliest stories.