Thursday, January 8, 2009

Don Westlake Interviews Richard Stark, October 18th 2002

This is a fun piece which I'll scan in here, just for posterity's sake.

A few years ago, I ran across this thing and found it pitch perfect, as the comedic/playful novelist Donald Westlake interviews the hard-bitten Richard Stark, author of the "Parker" novels ie the finest series of crime novels ever written.

Having maintained absolute silence for 23 years, 1974 to 1997, the famously reclusive crime novelist Richard Stark (RS) suddenly reappeared with a new novel, Comeback (1997), featuring his amoral anti-hero, Parker. Since then, the once-taciturn Stark seems unable to shut up; 5 novels in 5 years, including his latest, Breakout. At the time of his initial comeback in Comeback, (hah!), RS agreed to be interviewed by fellow crime novelist Donald E. Westlake (DW), in September of 1998. The feathers ruffled during that exchange having finally been smoothed (one hopes), the two participants have agreed to a rematch.

This second interview took place in an alley behind a poolhall on October 18, 2002.

DW: It seems your voice is well and truly back. Congratulations.

RS: I see you're still grinding them out, too.

DW: Yes, well. The last time we chatted, there was a certain . . . hostility in the air. I hope we're past that now.

RS: I'd been traveling.

DW: So I gathered. Would you say your latest Parker novel, BREAKOUT, is the most autobiographical so far?

RS: No, I wouldn't, and if you're smart you won't, either.

DW: You do seem to know quite a bit about crime and the criminal mind.

RS: I read the papers. The business section. You mostly read the funnies, I think.

DW: The greatest insights come from so-called comedy, I believe. But how do you manage to maintain absolutely no sense of humor year after year?

RS: No sense of humor? Don¹t make me laugh.

DW: I wouldn't even try. But speaking of humor, perhaps inadvertent, what did you think of Payback, the Mel Gibson programmer based on Parker's first outing, THE HUNTER?

RS: It was a remake. The first time, Point Blank, with Lee Marvin, I got paid. Also, it was a better picture.

DW: You didn't get paid for PAYBACK?

RS: Ask me again what I know about the criminal mind.

DW: You must be a little shallow-pocketed at the moment. What's next for you and Parker?

RS: Who wants to know? I like that watch.

DW: Thank you. Is there another outing for Parker com--

RS: I said, I like that watch.

DW: This interview is over.

Copyright 2002 by Donald E. Westlake

No comments: