Donald E. Westlake
|Born||Donald Edwin Westlake|
July 12, 1933
New York City, U.S.
|Died||December 31, 2008 (aged 75)|
|Pen name||John B. Allan, Judson Jack Carmichael, Curt Clark, Timothy J. Culver, J. Morgan Cunningham, Richard Stark, Edwin West, among others|
|Notable works||Parker series, John Dortmunder series, God Save the Mark, screenplay for The Grifters|
|Notable awards||Edgar Awards for Best Novel (1968), Best Short Story (1990) and Best Motion Picture Screenplay (1991)|
Mystery Writers of America Grand Master (1993)
Donald Edwin Westlake (July 12, 1933 – December 31, 2008) was an American writer with more than one hundred novels and non-fiction books to his credit. He specialized in crime fiction, especially comic capers, with an occasional foray into science fiction and other genres. Westlake created two professional criminal characters who each starred in a long-running series: the relentless, hardboiled Parker (published under the pen name Richard Stark), and John Dortmunder, who featured in a more humorous series.
He was a three-time Edgar Award winner and, alongside Joe Gores and William L. DeAndrea, was one of few writers to win Edgars in three different categories (1968, Best Novel, God Save the Mark; 1990, Best Short Story, "Too Many Crooks"; 1991, Best Motion Picture Screenplay, The Grifters). In 1993, the Mystery Writers of America named Westlake a Grand Master, the highest honor bestowed by the society.
Westlake was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Lillian (Bounds) and Albert Joseph Westlake, and was raised in Albany, New York.
Westlake wrote constantly in his teens, and after 200 rejections, his first short story sale was in 1954. Sporadic short story sales followed over the next few years, while Westlake attended Champlain College (a now defunct college created in the post WWII GI Bill boom) of Plattsburgh, New York, and Binghamton University in Binghamton, New York. He also spent two years in the United States Air Force.
Westlake moved to New York City in 1959, initially to work for a literary agency while writing on the side. By 1960, he was writing full-time. His first novel under his own name, The Mercenaries, was published in 1960; over the next 48 years, Westlake published a variety of novels and short stories under his own name and a number of pseudonyms.
He was married three times, the final time to Abigail Westlake (also known as Abby Adams Westlake and Abby Adams), a writer of nonfiction (her two published books are An Uncommon Scold and The Gardener's Gripe Book). The couple moved from New York City to Ancram in upstate New York in 1990.
Westlake died of a heart attack on December 31, 2008, while on the way to a New Year's Eve dinner in Mexico, where he and his wife were on vacation.
In addition to writing consistently under his own name, Westlake published under several pseudonyms. In the order they debuted:
Westlake sometimes made playful use of his pseudonyms in his work:
Additionally, Westlake conducted a mock "interview" with Richard Stark, Tucker Coe and Timothy J. Culver in an article for the non-fiction book Murder Ink: The Mystery Reader's Companion.
Donald Westlake was known for the great ingenuity of his plots and the audacity of his gimmicks. Westlake's most famous characters include the hard-boiled criminal Parker (appearing in fiction under the Richard Stark pseudonym) and Parker's comic flip-side John Dortmunder. Westlake was quoted as saying that he originally intended what became The Hot Rock to be a straightforward Parker novel, but "It kept turning funny," and thus became the first John Dortmunder novel.
Most of Donald Westlake's novels are set in New York City. In each of the Dortmunder novels, there is typically a foray into a particular city neighborhood. He wrote just two non-fiction books: Under an English Heaven, regarding the unlikely 1967 Anguillan "revolution", and a biography of Elizabeth Taylor.
Westlake was an occasional contributor to science fiction fanzines such as Xero, and used Xero as a venue for a harsh announcement that he was leaving the science fiction field.
Westlake and Joe Gores wrote the same encounter between two of their characters from different perspectives in two different novels. In chapter 18 of Gores' 1972 novel Dead Skip, San Francisco detective Dan Kearney meets Westlake's amoral thief Parker while looking for one of Parker's associates. The sequence is described from Parker's viewpoint in the 1972 book Plunder Squad, which Westlake wrote under the pseudonym Richard Stark. Gores hints further at the connection between the two books by referring to Parker's associates as "the plunder squad." Additionally, earlier in the novel, the book's protagonist Larry Ballard is described as being a reader only of Richard Stark novels.
Gores and Westlake also wrote a shared chapter in Westlake's Drowned Hopes and Gores' 32 Cadillacs, having the characters in those books influenced by the same event.
Several of Westlake's novels have been made into motion pictures: 1967's Point Blank (based on The Hunter) with Lee Marvin as Parker (changed to Walker); Mise à sac(based on The Score) with Michel Constantin as Parker (changed to Georges), also in 1967; 1968's The Split (from the book The Seventh) with Jim Brown as Parker (changed to McClain); The Hot Rock in 1972 with Robert Redford; Cops and Robbers in 1973; The Outfit with Robert Duvall as Parker (changed to Macklin), also in 1973; Bank Shot in 1974 with George C. Scott; The Busy Body (with an "all-star cast") in 1967; Slayground with Peter Coyote as Parker (changed to Stone) in 1983; Why Me? with Christopher Lambert, Christopher Lloyd, and J. T. Walsh in 1990; Payback in 1999, the second film made from The Hunter, with Mel Gibson as Parker (changed to Porter); What's the Worst That Could Happen? in 2001 with Martin Lawrence as Dortmunder (changed to Kevin Caffery); Constantin Costa-Gavras adapted The Ax for the European screen in 2005, to great critical and public acclaim – entitled Le Couperet, the film takes place in France and Belgium rather than the novel's setting of New England; Parker in 2013, based on Flashfire, with Jason Statham as Parker.
In his introduction to one of the short stories in Thieves' Dozen, Westlake mentioned legal troubles with Hollywood over his continued use of the Dortmunder novel characters; the movie studios attempted to assert that he had sold the rights to the characters to them permanently as a result of the Redford film.
The novel Jimmy the Kid has been adapted three times: in Italy as Come ti rapisco il pupocitation needed]in 1976; in the U.S. as Jimmy the Kid in 1982, starring Gary Coleman; and in Germany as Jimmy the Kid in 1998, starring Herbert Knaup.[
The novel Two Much! has been adapted twice: in France as Le Jumeau (The Twin) in 1984; and in the U.S. as Two Much in 1995, starring Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith.
Jean-Luc Godard's Made in U.S.A. in 1966 was an extremely loose adaptation of The Jugger. Neither the film's producer nor Godard purchased the rights to the novel, so Westlake successfully sued to prevent the film's commercial distribution in the United States.
His novel Memory, published posthumously in 2010, was adapted into the upcoming film The Actor, directed by Duke Johnson and starring André Holland and Gemma Chan.
Westlake was himself a screenwriter. His script for the 1990 film The Grifters, adapted from the novel by Jim Thompson, was nominated for an Academy Award. Westlake adapted Jim Thompson's work in a straightforward manner, but Westlake the humourist played on Thompson's name later that year in the Dortmunder novel Drowned Hopes by featuring a character named "Tom Jimson" who is a criminal psychopath. Westlake also wrote the screenplay for the film The Stepfather (from a story by Westlake, Brian Garfield and Carolyn Lefcourt), which was popular enough to inspire two sequels and a remake, projects in which Westlake was not involved.
In 1987 Westlake wrote the teleplay Fatal Confession, a pilot for the TV series Father Dowling Mysteries based on the novels by Ralph McInerny. He also appeared in a small role (as the mystery writer Rich Vincent) in the third-season episode, "The Hardboiled Mystery."
Westlake wrote an early draft of the 1999 James Bond film The World Is Not Enough, which was later scrapped because of difficulties in filming in the script's original setting in China. Westlake adapted the script into the novel Forever and a Death, which was published posthumously in 2017 by Hard Case Crime.
Westlake wrote an unproduced screenplay adapting the Dashiell Hammett crime novel Red Harvest, which changed the story considerably to refocus the ending on solving the original murder for which the detective had been hired, which is solved relatively early in the original book and which Westlake felt made the detective's continuing involvement in the story hard to justify.
Westlake co-wrote the story for the pilot of the ill-fated 1979 TV series Supertrain with teleplay writer Earl W. Wallace; Westlake and Wallace shared "created by" credit.
In 2022, Variety (magazine) reported that Robert Downey, Jr. and Shane Black were working together on multiple movie and television projects for Amazon Studios based on the Parker series.
|1959||All My Lovers||Midwood Books||Alan Marshall|
|1959||Backstage Love||Midwood Books||Alan Marshall||Phil Crawford||Also published as Apprentice Virgin|
|1959||Man Hungry||Midwood Books||Alan Marshall|
|1959||Sally||Midwood Books||Alan Marshall|
|1960||All About Annette||Midwood Books||Alan Marshall|
|1960||All the Girls Were Willing||Midwood Books||Alan Marshall||Phil Crawford||Later printed as What Girls Will Do|
|1960||A Girl Called Honey||Midwood Books||Alan Marshall & Sheldon Lord||A collaboration between Westlake and Lawrence Block|
|1960||The Mercenaries||Random House||Donald E. Westlake||Also published in the UK as The Smashers. Republished in 2009 under Westlake's preferred title, The Cutie.|
|1960||So Willing||Midwood Books||Alan Marshall & Sheldon Lord||A collaboration between Westlake and Lawrence Block|
|1960||Virgin's Summer||Midwood Books||Alan Marshall|
|1960||The Wife Next Door||Midwood Books||Alan Marshall|
|1961||Call Me Sinner||Nightstand Books||Alan Marshall|
|1961||Passion's Plaything||Bedside Books||Alan Marshall|
|1961||Off Limits||Bedside Books||Alan Marshall|
|1961||Brother and Sister||Monarch Books||Edwin West|
|1961||Campus Doll||Monarch Books||Edwin West|
|1960||Young and Innocent||Monarch Books||Edwin West|
|1961||Killing Time||Random House||Donald E. Westlake||Later published by Blackbird Books as The Operator in 2023.|
|1962||The Hunter||Pocket Books||Richard Stark||Parker||Later published as Point Blank and Payback. First appearance of master thief Parker.|
|1962||361||Random House||Donald E. Westlake|
|1962||Strange Affair||Monarch Books||Edwin West|
|1963||Killy||Random House||Donald E. Westlake|
|1963||Sin Prowl||Corinth Publications||Alan Marshall||Phil Crawford|
|1963||Campus Lovers||Monarch Books||Edwin West|
|1963||The Man with the Getaway Face||Pocket Books||Richard Stark||Parker||Also published in the UK as Steel Hit.|
|1963||The Outfit||Pocket Books||Richard Stark||Parker|
|1963||The Mourner||Pocket Books||Richard Stark||Parker|
|1963||The Score||Pocket Books||Richard Stark||Parker||Also published in the UK as Killtown.|
|1964||Pity Him Afterwards||Random House||Donald E. Westlake|
|1965||The Fugitive Pigeon||Random House||Donald E. Westlake|
|1965||The Jugger||Pocket Books||Richard Stark||Parker|
|1966||The Seventh||Pocket Books||Richard Stark||Parker||Later published as The Split.|
|1966||The Busy Body||Random House||Donald E. Westlake|
|1966||The Handle||Pocket Books||Richard Stark||Parker||Also published in the UK as Run Lethal.|
|1966||The Spy in the Ointment||Random House||Donald E. Westlake|
|1966||Kinds of Love, Kinds of Death||Random House||Tucker Coe||Mitchell Tobin|
|1967||Murder Among Children||Random House||Tucker Coe||Mitchell Tobin|
|1967||The Damsel||Macmillan Publishers||Richard Stark||Grofield|
|1967||The Rare Coin Score||Fawcett Books||Richard Stark||Parker|
|1967||God Save the Mark||Random House||Donald E. Westlake||Edgar Award winner for Best Novel|
|1967||Philip||Thomas Y. Crowell Co.||Donald E. Westlake|
|1967||Anarchaos||Ace Books||Curt Clark|
|1967||The Green Eagle Score||Fawcett Books||Richard Stark||Parker|
|1968||Who Stole Sassi Manoon?||Random House||Donald E. Westlake|
|1968||The Black Ice Score||Fawcett Books||Richard Stark||Parker|
|1969||The Sour Lemon Score||Fawcett Books||Richard Stark||Parker|
|1969||Somebody Owes Me Money||Random House||Donald E. Westlake|
|1969||Up Your Banners||Lancer Books||Donald E. Westlake|
|1969||The Dame||Macmillan Publishers||Richard Stark||Grofield|
|1969||The Blackbird||Macmillan Publishers||Richard Stark||Grofield|
|1970||Wax Apple||Random House||Tucker Coe||Mitchell Tobin|
|1970||The Hot Rock||Simon & Schuster||Donald E. Westlake||Dortmunder||Originally planned as a non-comic Parker novel; introduces John Dortmunder|
|1970||Ex Officio||M. Evans||Timothy J. Culver||Also published under the title Power Play.|
|1970||Adios Scheherazade||Simon & Schuster||Donald E. Westlake||Builds on Westlake's experiences writing soft-core porn.|
|1970||A Jade in Aries||Random House||Tucker Coe||Mitchell Tobin|
|1971||Lemons Never Lie||World Publishing Company||Richard Stark||Grofield|
|1971||I Gave at the Office||Simon & Schuster||Donald E. Westlake|
|1971||Deadly Edge||Random House||Richard Stark||Parker|
|1971||Slayground||Random House||Richard Stark||Parker|
|1972||Bank Shot||Simon & Schuster||Donald E. Westlake||Dortmunder|
|1972||Cops and Robbers||M. Evans||Donald E. Westlake|
|1972||Don't Lie to Me||Random House||Tucker Coe||Mitchell Tobin|
|1972||Plunder Squad||Random House||Richard Stark||Parker||Crosses over with the 1972 Joe Gores novel Dead Skip|
|1973||Comfort Station||Signet Books||J. Morgan Cunningham|
|1973||Gangway!||M. Evans||Donald E. Westlake and Brian Garfield|
|1974||Butcher's Moon||Random House||Richard Stark||Parker|
|1974||Help, I Am Being Held Prisoner||M. Evans||Donald E. Westlake|
|1974||Jimmy the Kid||M. Evans||Donald E. Westlake||Dortmunder||Includes chapters from an otherwise non-existent novel by Richard Stark entitled Child Heist.|
|1975||Two Much||M. Evans||Donald E. Westlake|
|1975||Brothers Keepers||M. Evans||Donald E. Westlake|
|1976||Dancing Aztecs||M. Evans||Donald E. Westlake||A shortened version, lacking one of the sub-plots, was published in 1976 as A New York Dance|
|1977||Nobody's Perfect||M. Evans||Donald E. Westlake||Dortmunder|
|1980||Castle in the Air||M. Evans||Donald E. Westlake|
|1981||Kahawa||Viking Press||Donald E. Westlake|
|1983||Why Me?||Viking Press||Donald E. Westlake||Dortmunder|
|1984||A Likely Story||Penzler Books||Donald E. Westlake|
|1985||High Adventure||Mysterious Press||Donald E. Westlake|
|1985||Good Behavior||Mysterious Press||Donald E. Westlake||Dortmunder|
|1986||One of Us Is Wrong||Tor Books||Samuel Holt||Sam Holt|
|1986||I Know a Trick Worth Two of That||Tor Books||Samuel Holt||Sam Holt|
|1987||What I Tell You Three Times Is False||Tom Doherty Associates||Samuel Holt||Sam Holt|
|1988||Trust Me on This||Mysterious Press||Donald E. Westlake||Sara Joslyn|
|1989||Sacred Monster||Mysterious Press||Donald E. Westlake|
|1989||The Fourth Dimension Is Death||Tom Doherty Associates||Samuel Holt||Sam Holt|
|1990||Drowned Hopes||Mysterious Press||Donald E. Westlake||Dortmunder||Crosses over with the 1992 Joe Gores novel 32 Cadillacs|
|1991||The Perfect Murder: Five Great Mystery Writers Create the Perfect Crime||HarperCollins||Jack Hitt with Lawrence Block,
Sarah Caudwell, Tony Hillerman,
Peter Lovesey, Donald E. Westlake
|Collaborative novel, devised and edited by Hitt. Westlake contributes two chapters.|
|1992||Humans||Mysterious Press||Donald E. Westlake|
|1993||Don't Ask||Mysterious Press||Donald E. Westlake||Dortmunder|
|1994||Baby, Would I Lie?||Mysterious Press||Donald E. Westlake||Sara Joslyn|
|1995||Smoke||Mysterious Press||Donald E. Westlake|
|1996||What's the Worst That Could Happen?||Mysterious Press||Donald E. Westlake||Dortmunder|
|1997||The Ax||Mysterious Press||Donald E. Westlake|
|1997||Comeback||Mysterious Press||Richard Stark||Parker|
|1998||Backflash||Mysterious Press||Richard Stark||Parker|
|2000||The Hook||Warner Books||Donald E. Westlake||Published in the UK as Corkscrew|
|2000||Flashfire||Mysterious Press||Richard Stark||Parker||Also published as Parker, movie tie-in|
|2001||Firebreak||Warner Books||Richard Stark||Parker|
|2001||Bad News||Warner Books||Donald E. Westlake||Dortmunder|
|2002||Put a Lid on It||Warner Books||Donald E. Westlake|
|2002||Breakout||Mysterious Press||Richard Stark||Parker|
|2002||The Scared Stiff||Carroll & Graf Publishers||Judson Jack Carmichael||Published in the UK as by Donald E. Westlake|
|2003||Money for Nothing||Mysterious Press||Donald E. Westlake|
|2004||The Road to Ruin||Mysterious Press||Donald E. Westlake||Dortmunder|
|2004||Nobody Runs Forever||Mysterious Press||Richard Stark||Parker|
|2005||Watch Your Back!||Mysterious Press||Donald E. Westlake||Dortmunder|
|2006||Ask the Parrot||Mysterious Press||Richard Stark||Parker|
|2007||What's So Funny?||Warner Books||Donald E. Westlake||Dortmunder|
|2008||Dirty Money||Grand Central Publishing||Richard Stark||Parker|
|2009||Get Real||Grand Central Publishing||Donald E. Westlake||Dortmunder|
|2010||Memory||Hard Case Crime||Donald E. Westlake||Written in the early 1960s, published posthumously.|
|2012||The Comedy Is Finished||Hard Case Crime||Donald E. Westlake||Written in the early 1980s, published posthumously.|
|2017||Forever and a Death||Hard Case Crime||Donald E. Westlake||Written in 1998, published posthumously.|
|2022||Call Me a Cab||Hard Case Crime||Donald E. Westlake||Written c. 1977/78, previously only published in a significantly shorter version in Redbook in 1978.|
Westlake has been acknowledged by many writers and fans of crime fiction as one of the masters of the genre.
The central villain of Stephen King's novel The Dark Half, George Stark, was named in honor of Richard Stark. King telephoned Westlake personally to ask permission. King's own "Richard Bachman" pseudonym was also partly named for Stark: King had been reading a Richard Stark novel at the time he chose the pen name.
Writer Duane Swierczynski named his first-born son Parker, in honor of the Richard Stark character as well as Spider-Man's secret identity, Peter Parker.
In addition to Darwyn Cooke's graphic-novel adaptations of Parker, Cooke also homaged Westlake in his earlier work Catwoman: Selena's Big Score by giving one of the characters, an old flame and mentor of Selina Kyle, the name "Stark" as well as the face of Lee Marvin, who played the Parker character in Point Blank.
((cite news)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
It's called 'The Actor' and Neon is releasing it. André Holland and Gemma Chan are our leads.