Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Robert B. Parker

I was saddened to learn of the death today of one of America's most beloved writers, Robert B. Parker. He is said to have "died at his desk" at age 77.

I will miss his books, his talent, his wit, his characters. I have a collection of Robert B. Parker books. Most of them are from his series about Spenser, the hard-boiled Boston detective, who made Parker a household word. I can't remember them individually now -- one from another. I can only remember how much I enjoyed reading them, how delighted I was to read of Spenser trading jabs, physical and otherwise, with the redoubtable Hawk, how I both relished and got impatient with his relationship with Susan Silverman.

"Ditch her," I told him on countless occasions. "You're obsessed. She's a loser."

But he didn't think so. And maybe he was right.

Susan was a complex woman dealing with a man who preferred to see things in black-and-white. And they were putting together a relationship -- or trying to -- at a time when social gender roles were certainly changing. Robert Parker captured that ambiguity, that sense of his characters being on social quicksand, while at the same time involving them in a cracking good mystery.

He went on to write books about Jesse Stone which I wasn't as enthralled with but which captured the imaginations of readers who weren't as devoted to Spenser. He never just sat back and 'cranked out' stories because they would make him money. Certainly Spenser would have made him money forever.

But Parker was a writer who wanted to challenge himself, who was bored with sameness, who was always seeking new possibilities, reinventing himself and his literary landscape.

Now that I'm finished with George's revisions (they were tweaks, really. It was wonderful.) and they're gone, I think I may go have a nice day or two of re-reading some of my favorite Spenser books and taking time to appreciate all the gifts to readers that Robert B Parker has left us.



Blogger Lacey Devlin said...

How fitting that he was at his desk where he created so much magic at the time. A sad day indeed.

19 January, 2010  
Blogger Anne McAllister said...

I thought it was very fitting, too, Lacey. And I do hope he finished whatever it was he was working on.

20 January, 2010  

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