Thursday, January 01, 2009

RIP Donald E. Westlake

And so it begins...Westlake was the consummate mystery writer, and an author of as many pseudonyms as he had credits. The Parker novels, written under the pen name Richard Stark, are among the most noted, and inspired John Boorman's great Point Blank (1967). My favorite of his books, The Ax, is about the extremes an unemployed white-collar worker will go to find a new position; Costa-Gavras directed a French-language film version in 2005, which I would like to see. (And what of the as-yet-unreleased Ripley Under Ground, also from 2005; Westlake adapting Patricia Highsmith's anti-hero is an intriguing combination, however it turned out.) Westlake was a deserved Oscar nominee for his trenchant adaptation of Jim Thompson's The Grifters (1990); his best original for the screen was his insinuating detonation of the nuclear family, The Stepfather (1987), which I do hope a forthcoming remake will finally bring to DVD. Sadly, Westlake was due to make a personal appearance at New York's Film Forum to discuss Jean-Luc Godard's loose filmization of one of his Stark books, 1966's Made in U.S.A.

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