Дональд Уэстлейк: Collected Stories

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Дональд Уэстлейк Collected Stories
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    Collected Stories
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Donald E. Westlake

Collected Stories


About Donald E. Westlake

Donald E. Westlake was born on July 12, 1933 in Brooklyn, New York City, New York.

A former U.S. Air Force pilot and one time actor, Donald Westlake has become the writer most associated with tales of organized crime. Indeed, in story after story, he has demonstrated his particular belief that crime is actually not very different from any other type of business enterprise-and the intelligent criminal is just, one more example of ‘Organization Man’.

Westlake wrote constantly in his teens, and after 200 rejections, his first short story sale was in 1954. Sporadic short story sales followed over the next few years, while Westlake attended Champlain College of Plattsburgh, New York (now defunct) and Harpur College in Binghamton, New York.

In 1959, Donald Westlake moved to New York City, initially to work for a literary agency while writing on the side. Buy by 1960, he was writing full-time. His first novel under his own name, The Mercenaries, was published in 1960; over the next 48 years, Westlake published a variety of novels and short stories under his own name and over a dozen pseudonyms.

He was married three times, the final time to Abigail Westlake (also known as Abby Adams Westlake and Abby Adams), a writer of nonfiction (her two published books are An Uncommon Scold and The Gardener’s Gripe Book). The couple moved out of New York City to Ancram in upstate New York in 1990. Abby Westlake is a well-regarded gardener, and the Westlake garden has frequently been opened for public viewing in the summer.

In Westlake’s early novels like Killing Time (1961), about the running of a corrupt upstate New York town, he dealt with organized crime from the inside with great objectivity; but over the years elements of humor and the absurd have crept into his work in the shape of bungled robberies and inept confidence tricks.

In 1962, by way of contrast, he adopted the pen name Richard Stark and started a series of novels about Parker, a cold-blooded professional thief, who was later transferred to the screen in Point Blank (1967).

Not content with this, Westlake invented a second major character, Mitch Tobin, a guilt-ridden former New York cop turned private eye, whose adventures appear under the name Tucker Coe.

More recently still, he has begun writing a number of capers about a group of inept thieves led by criminal manqué John Archibald Dortmunder.

Donald Westlake was known for the great ingenuity of his plots and the audacity of his gimmicks. His writing and dialogue are lively. His main characters are fully rounded, believable, and clever. Westlake’s most famous characters include the hard-boiled criminal Parker (appearing in fiction under the Richard Stark pseudonym) and Parker’s comic flip-side John Dortmunder. Mr. Westlake was quoted as saying that he originally intended what became The Hot Rock to be a straightforward Parker novel, but “It kept turning funny,” and thus became the first John Dortmunder novel.

Most of Donald Westlake’s novels are set in New York City. In each of the Dortmunder novels, there is typically a detailed foray somewhere through the city. He wrote just two non-fiction books: Under an English Heaven, regarding the unlikely 1967 Anguillan “revolution”, and a biography of Elizabeth Taylor.

Westlake was an occasional contributor to science fiction fanzines such as Xero; and used Xero as a venue for a harsh announcement that he was leaving the science fiction field.

For this remarkable display of virtuosity, Donald Westlake has won numerous awards, including three Edgars and a Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America, as well as an Oscar nomination for his screenplay of Jim Thompson’s The Grifters.

Donald E. Westlake died of a heart attack on Wednesday, December 31, 2008. He was 75.


In addition to writing consistently under his own name, Donald Westlake published under more than a dozen pseudonyms:

[listed in order they debuted]

Richard Stark

Grace Selacious

Alan Marshall/Alan Marsh

James Blue

Ben Christopher

John Dexter

Andrew Shaw

Edwin West

John B. Allan

Don Holliday

Curt Clark

Barbara Wilson

Tucker Coe

P.N. Castor

Timothy J. Culver

J. Morgan Cunningham

Samuel Holt

Judson Jack Carmichael

Richard Stark: Westlake’s best-known continuing pseudonym was that of Richard Stark. Stark debuted in 1959, with a story in Mystery Digest. Four other Stark short stories followed through 1961, including “The Curious Facts Preceding My Execution”, later the title story in Westlake’s first short-story collection. Then, from 1962 to 1974, sixteen novels about the relentless and remorseless professional thief Parker and his accomplices (including larcenous actor Alan Grofield) appeared and were credited to Richard Stark. “Stark” was then inactive until 1997, when Westlake once again began writing and publishing Parker novels under Stark’s name. The University of Chicago began republishing the Richard Stark novels in 2008. When Stephen King wrote the novel The Dark Half in 1989, he named the central villain George Stark as an homage to Westlake.

Grace Selacious: One-shot pseudonym, used as a third name for the short story “Martin’s Place” (Escapade, 1958). The first part of the name (“Grace”) believed to be the nickname friends called his maternal grandmother.

Alan Marshall (or Alan Marsh): Westlake acknowledged writing as many as 28 paperback soft-porn titles from 1959–64 under these names; titles include All My Lovers, Man Hungry, All About Annette, Sally, Virgin’s Summer, Call Me Sinner, Off Limits, and three featuring the character of Phil Crawford: Apprentice Virgin, All the Girls Were Willing, and Sin Prowl. Westlake was not the only author to work under Marshall’s name, claiming that: “The publishers would either pay more for the names they already knew or would only buy from (those) names… so it became common practice for several of us to loan our names to friends… Before… the end of 1961… six other people, friends of mine, published books as Alan Marshall, with my permission but without the publishers’ knowledge.” Two novels published in 1960 were co-authored by Westlake and Lawrence Block (who used the pen-name “Sheldon Lord”) and were credited to “Sheldon Lord and Alan Marshall”: A Girl Called Honey, dedicated to Westlake and Block, and So Willing, dedicated to “Nedra and Loretta,” who were (at that time) Westlake and Block’s wives.

James Blue: One-shot pseudonym, used as a third name circa 1959 when both Westlake and Stark already had stories in a magazine issue. In actuality, the name of Westlake’s cat.

Ben Christopher: One-shot pseudonym for a 1960 story in 77 Sunset Strip magazine, based on the characters from the TV show.

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