Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Robert B. Parker, 1932–2010.

It is indeed sad to think of a world with no new entertaining adventures with the smart-mouthed Spenser and the staunch, frankly terrifying Hawk.

Despite the fact that I coauthored The Robert B. Parker Companion, I only met Parker once, as the photo below shows. I interviewed him in 2006 for a Bryant Park program just outside the New York Public Library (go here to listen to the interview). He was jovial, unsurprisingly snide about Hollywood, and, after he'd said he wasn't a short story writer, touchingly pleased when I disagreed and mentioned "Surrogate" (1982; rpt. in New Crimes 3, ed. Maxim Jakubowski, 1991). Most of all, I was impressed by his serious commitment to taking care of his family.

If we wanted to name favorite Parker novels, I'd have to mention Promised Land (1976), in which Parker discusses Cape Cod as an unfulfilled ideal of paradise, and A Catskill Eagle (1985). I also really like Potshot (2001), in which Parker marries the mystery and the western, following up on his 1970 doctoral dissertation for Boston University where he discussed the evolution of the hard-boiled detective from the western lawman ("The Violent Hero, Wilderness Heritage, and Urban Reality: A Study of the Private Eye in the Novels of Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and Ross Macdonald").

About the photo: Elizabeth Foxwell and Robert B. Parker, spring 2006. Photo by Glenn Curry.


George said...

Robert B. Parker was certainly one of the Giants of the mystery genre. His best work was the equal of Hammett's and Chandler's.

Martin Edwards said...

Very interesting. Has Parker's thesis ever been published?

Elizabeth Foxwell said...

"The Violent Hero" was microformed by UMI and is available in the database Dissertation Abstracts International. Otherwise, a bound copy could be obtained via Interlibrary Loan.

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks for the info.