And Now a Few Words from the late, great writer Robert B. Parker
February 16, 2014
A few days ago I happened on one of Robert B. Parker’s books that had slipped down near the bottom of my to-read list. Perhaps this was because the book, Resolution, is a western, and the mood for reading a Western had not struck me since I picked up the hardcover edition form the bargain book table several years ago.
I should have known better. I mean it’s a Robert B. Parker book. So it had to be good.
For those of you unfamiliar with Parker’s work, I pulled these facts about him off his webpage.
Robert B. Parker’s résumé is familiar to most of his readers. Born and raised in Massachusetts, graduated from Colby College in Maine, married Joan Hall, had two sons, earned his Ph.D. at Boston University, taught at Northeastern University, and wrote nearly seventy books. …
Bob was renowned for his Spenser novels, featuring the wise-cracking, street-smart Boston private-eye, which earned him a devoted following and reams of critical acclaim. He also launched two other bestselling series featuring, respectively, Massachusetts police chief Jesse Stone and Boston private detective Sunny Randall. In addition, he authored four Westerns. Bob’s bestselling Western novel Appaloosa was made into a major motion picture by New Line, starred Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen, and was a box office hit in 2008. Long acknowledged as the dean of American crime fiction, he was named Grand Master of the Edgar Awards in 2002 by the Mystery Writers of America, an honor shared with earlier masters such as Alfred Hitchcock and Ellery Queen.
Another note is that Parker died January 8, 2010. His wife found him slumped over his writing desk where he had been working on his latest novel.
Is there any better way for a writer to go?
Parker was known for his terse, compressed style and his use of dialogue. Resolution may be the greatest example of his writing vibe because as far as I can tell in it he used not so much as one extra word.
But rather than tell you about his writing, I felt that a small sample would be the best way to go.
Here are the first few lines of Resolution.
I was in the Blackfoot Saloon in a town called Resolution, talking with the man who owned the saloon about a job. The owner was wearing a brocade vest. His name was Wolfson. He was tall and thin and sort of spooky-looking, with a walleye.
“What’s your name?” Wolfson said.
“Hitch,” I said. “Everett Hitch.”
“How long have you been in Resolution?” Wolfson said.
We were at the far end of the big mahogany bar, sipping whiskey that I had bought us.
“‘Bout two hours, I said.
“And you came straight here?” Wolfson said.
“Ain’t that many choices in Resolution,” I said.
And so on it goes.
Like I said.
Parker wasn’t a man to waste a lot of words.
That’s why I love to read his work.
A hundred pages in, I have seen him, with his skeletonized writing, draw a picture of a coming storm, a showdown between the forces of good and evil.
And somewhere in there is a mysterious woman, sodbusters on the short end of the stick, the best gun man in all the west, good-hearted whores and a town that needs saving in the worst sort of way.