Friday, November 01, 2013

Starktober: The Aftermath

Closing Thoughts
I'm assuming I should thank you for your indulgence during Starktober, but the great thing about a blog is that I have no idea who any of you are or if any of you actually read all (or any!) of the Starktober posts. And, if you're coming here from some random link, on November 1, 2013 or sometime later, the place to begin with Starktober is my introduction; that links to all of the other posts.

Reading all twenty-eight novels by Richard Stark over the course of thirty-five days was an exciting and occasionally tiring thing. Interestingly, I sometimes was concerned about making it through when I was between books, but never while actually reading: every single one of the novels, from The Hunter on, is a dark gem, compellingly plotted and compulsively readable. It's always easier just to finish reading a Stark novel than to put one down, which is a rare accomplishment.

I don't have any larger argument here; I wrote a lot of things about Parker and his world -- and the ways that Stark defined that world, which is not quite the same thing -- over the course of those twenty-eight posts, and I think I'll leave them stand, like chapters in a particularly violent story.

The Rest of Stark
"Richard Stark" also wrote four short stories, all published before The Hunter, mostly using a pseudonym because of the speed Westlake was turning out stories. None of them feature Parker -- but they are earlier work by the same writer who wrote the Parker novels, so one could think of them as part of that oevure.

Stark novels have been turned into eight movies at varying levels of budget and faithfulness. I've seen exactly none of them, so I'll direct any interested parties to the movie page on The Violent World of Parker. One interesting tidbit: the most recent movie, starring the suitably Parkerianly violent Jason Statham, is the first and only one to date to actually use the Parker name.

There have been three graphic novels to date based on Stark novels, all adapted by Darywn Cooke, with a fourth, Slayground, coming this month. (And I believe one more is now planned.) I reviewed The Hunter, The Outfit, and The Score previously.

In what is not a startling coincidence, there will also be a new reprint series of Parker novels, illustrated and designed by Cooke, which will start sometime in early 2014 with The Hunter, and continue at some not-yet-specified pace from that point on. If you want hardcovers of your Stark books, this is your first chance in a long time.

(But the first twenty Parker novels are still available in their matching University of Chicago Press editions, though the last four are now mostly out of print. And it looks like Chicago won't reprint those last four, foiling those of us who just want a uniform set.)

The final semi-official Parker appearance, which I didn't and won't review, is in a scene shared between Stark's 1972 novel Plunder Squad and Joe Gores's first DKA Associates novel, Dead Skip, from the same year. (The DKA novels are smart crime fiction, though not nearly as hardboiled as Parker; they're novels about an essentially realistic private-detective agency, which means they spend their time running skip traces and repossessing cars rather than solving murders.) It's written by Gores in Dead Skip, and tells the same events that we saw from Parker's point of view in Plunder Squad.

Finally, I have to thank and acknowledge two resources without which I couldn't have done Starktober: first, Donald Westlake's official site, now maintained by his son Paul, has a detailed bibliography and lots of tidbits about Westlake's work as Richard Stark, under his own name, and in other guises. And The Violent World of Parker is utterly indispensable to anyone interested in the Parker books; it's the one internet home for all things Richard Stark. I've referred to Violent World nearly daily while writing these posts, and much of this particular afterword comes directly from there.

And post-finally, if this post series has been amusing or appealing to you, please use this link the next time you want to buy something from that famous hegemonic American mail-order emporium. Antick Musings has no advertising and never will; the only revenue comes when I connect a reader with something that reader finds exciting and worth spending money on. If you find that valuable, I hope you'll kick back a penny or two to me on your next Internet purchase.

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