Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Robert B. Parker, RIP

A few years ago, I had the honor of being on a panel at the Concord Literary Festival with Robert B. Parker. I'd seen the local luminary - the creator of the Spenser mysteries, and arguably the reviver of hard-boiled crime fiction - before, often. When Jon and I would splurge for a dinner at Rialto, we'd see him comfortably ensconced on one of the restaurant's big wraparound banquettes. When I'd squeeze into Kate's Mystery Books for her annual holiday party, it was usually after Parker had made his annual appearance - and the crowd had subsided somewhat. He was, like his hero, larger than life.

In truth, at the Concord fest, I was a little shocked, even put off, when he told a capacity crowd that he never re-wrote. He never, or so he said, even re-read what he'd written. He simply wrote – and sent off the ms. Since I'm one of those writers who consider revising a manuscript a form of torture, I envied him. How wonderful to be able to just dash off a draft – and have it published! I remember thinking that was how he managed to be so prolific, but also that this was exactly why I'd stopped reading him recently. The quality of his work had fallen off, at least to this reader.

But to hear that he died at his writing desk yesterday morning, hard at work at something, despite it being a holiday... well, that's inspiring.

What I wrote for the Globe: http://www.boston.com/ae/books/blog/2010/01/robert_b_parker.html


Elizabeth Bolton said...

Oh my goodness - this is the first I've heard of this (having avoided the news because of the election). How sad.

And you've convinced me to pick up The Godwulf Manuscript. I would think I read it when new but must have forgotten the plot. Years later I worked in Howard Gotlieb's Special Collections at BU and I'm surprised I never made the connection.

Clea Simon said...

I hope you enjoy it, Elizabeth (and I'm sorry to be the bearer of sad news). I'm fond of the book because it was the first I read - I hope it's not too dated. The sexist stuff about "co-eds" is pretty awful...

Anonymous said...

The Godwulf Manuscript was my first novel and it I think I'll also have to give it a re-read. But my recollection is that the fictional college was patterned after Northeastern. I remember a funny line about "nation headquarters of White Castle." A reference to all the white brick buildings on Huntington Ave.