Very moving appreciation, Mario.
Slayground (a Berkeley Medallion copy falsely numbered The Violent World
of Parker # 1) was the first Westlake I read, too. I thought it was
great, something unlike any crime fiction I'd read (admittedly, not a
whole lot at that point, but haven't found any betters since). And then
I read #2, Point Blank. Took me years, more than a decade, but I
finally compiled the whole series. And read them all yet again, in
order. Made a huge difference, made the best even better.
I once went to a public interview of Westlake done by Michael Dirda at
the Smithsonian, around the relaunch of the Parker series. He had great
stories. Afterwards, he signed copies of his new book. A handful of us
had brought a bunch of books, all of which he graciously signed. We
were asked to wait until those with single copies were done. Far from a
punishment, this turned out to be a bonus, as Westlake continued to chat
and tell stories. Everyone was terribly jealous when I pulled out my
copy Comfort Station, since Westlake had mentioned his blurb to himself
on the cover of this pseudonymous novel.
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