Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: I've finally begun THE HOT ROCK...

From: Stephen Burridge (
Date: 13 Mar 2009

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    The introductory matter to the Dortmunder short story collection "Thieves' Dozen" mentions this:

    "It all began when my regular guy stood me up. I have been, intermittently, a writer known as Richard Stark, who chronicles the incidents in the life of a character called only Parker. In 1967, Parker refused the role I'd planned for him in what was supposed to have been his next book; he thought it was beneath his dignity. So that's when I first turned, just as a subsitute, a temp, a one-time hire, to John Archibald Dortmunder. And all I asked him to do was steal the same emerald six times -- piece of cake."

    On Fri, Mar 13, 2009 at 3:25 PM, trentrey <>wrote:

    > Jim:
    > Thanks for the kind words about the site.
    > I don't have any coverage of The Hot Rock up yet, but plan on some soon as
    > it's long overdue. But since the Parker connection has come up, this seems
    > like an opportune time to try to take advantage of this message boards'
    > knowledge base.
    > Does anyone know of an interview or introduction written by Westlake where
    > he discusses how an attempted Parker became The Hot Rock? I've heard it
    > mentioned many times but the only reference I have found in print is in
    > Brian Garfield's (excellent) introduction to the Gregg Press edition of The
    > Outfit. All that says is:
    > "But it is interesting to note that Westlake's "Dortmunder" series of
    > comedy-caper novels, beginning with The Hot Rock (1970), grew out of the
    > Parker stories. Westlake sat down one day to start writing the next Richard
    > Stark novel, decided that the situation in the plot was too funny to let
    > pass, and converted Parker into Dortmunder, Grofield into Kelp, and the
    > tough plot into a comedy."
    > When I do write up The Hot Rock, it would be great to include more detailed
    > information, especially if it came straight from Westlake. Anyone seen
    > anything like that?
    > --Trent
    > --- In <>, JIM
    > DOHERTY <jimdohertyjr@...> wrote:
    > >
    > >
    > > Re Todd's message below:
    > >
    > > "The first Dortmunder novel, of course, by Donald Westlake...and what
    > surprises me most is how broad the comedy is, at least in the early chapters
    > that Westlake apparently set aside for a while. (I've read a number of
    > Dortmunder stories, out of order, but the latter-day works are somewhat
    > subtler.) Haven't seen the film version yet, either, as I was consciously
    > putting that off till after reading the book."
    > >
    > > Most of you probably already know this, and our new member, Mr. Trent,
    > could probably give you more details on the metamorphisis, but for those of
    > you who aren't aware of it, THE HOT ROCK started out as a dead serious
    > Parker novel. Westlake's original idea was to see how Parker would handle
    > the frustration if he had to steal the same item over and over again. But
    > the book kept, as Westlake later put it, "wanting to be funny," and a Parker
    > novel just CAN'T be funny.
    > >
    > > Rather than risk having his diamond-hard gangster come off as ridiculous,
    > Westlake created a comedic doppelganger, Dortmunder, the master criminal
    > with constant hard luck who became his most popular series character.
    > >
    > > By the way, when Mr. Trent introduced himself, although he mentioned the
    > address of his very good website, he didn't provide a link. Here it is:
    > >
    > >
    > >
    > > Great site. Heartily recommended for Parker fans.
    > >
    > >

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