In the early 1980s, I had been reading Chandler for awhile, but ran out because his output was not significant. While browsing a bookstore, I came upon the paperback series of Spenser books that had the head and shoulders illustration of a man with black hair (if you were a reader in the 80's, you know what I'm talking about). I read the blurbs and started with the Godwulf Manuscript. I didn't think it was great but enough to pique my interest. Swiftly burned through 4 more books before finishing what I thought was Parker's best book, Looking for Rachel Wallace. It just seemed to have the best balance of character development, plot, action/violence, and polished writing. I felt that Parker had been building up to writing that book. And the most interesting thing is that Hawk and Susan are hardly in the book, showing how much Spenser himself could carry the series. Some great lines, quoting from memory after 25 years:
"I'm the Tooth Fairy. I loosen teeth."
(after using a crowbar to pry open a door furtively):"...making a sound that wasn't much louder than the clap of Creation."
Read through the rest, but started to fatigue at Valediction, which, coincidentally, had the hugest print I had ever seen in a paperback. I then read an interview with Parker, in which he described how the contract for A Catskill Eagle specified that the book be "fat", meaning a certain high number of pages. I felt a little disillusioned by that, meaning output was more dictated not by inspiration but by compensation. When A Catskill Eagle paperback came out, the print was even bigger than Valediction. Gave Parker a couple more tries with Pale Kings and Princes and Crimson Joy but I was done. I just felt that he was phoning it in for the money and was not inspired anymore.
By then, I had discovered other writers such as Jeremiah Healy, Robert Randisi, Rob Kantner, etc. I never made it back to Parker, although I did read Poodle Springs. From what I can gather, he did find his inspiration again which showed up with Sunny Randall and Jesse Stone.
I'm not sorry I left Parker behind. Much like the discussion earlier about Lawrence Block said, it's hard to revisit an author if disappointment/disillusionment has set in and if your TBR pile is huge. But I will always be grateful to him for those early Spensers which reinvigorated me and turned me on to all the great PI authors of the 1980s and beyond.
Rest in peace, big guy.
--- In email@example.com, "jacquesdebierue" <jacquesdebierue@...> wrote:
> --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, Mark Sullivan <DJ-Anonyme@> wrote:
> > Funny, that's the one that started my disappointment with Parker/Spenser, was bored by the feminist/macho debates.
> > Mark
> That was the era of "issues"... For a catalogue, see Christopher Lasch's "The Culture of Narcissism". Lasch is a bit (actually, more than a bit) angry but he describes the era with deadly accuracy. The era that is ending, probably, if it hasn't already. Wait a minute... Yahoo headlines has something about "Are you ruining your child's social life?". And the other day it had something about how to impress people (perhaps your boss). No, it hasn't ended.
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