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Donald E. Westlake
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    (July 12, 1933-December 31, 2008)
    Born in Brooklyn, New York
    Wrote over 100 books
    Best known for crime novels featuring the characters Parker and John Dortmunder
    Titles include 'The Hunter' (1962), 'The Man with the Getaway Face' (1963), 'The Spy in the Ointment' (1966), 'God Save the Mark' (1967), 'The Hot Rock' (1970), 'Slayground' (1971), 'Bank Shot' (1972), 'Dancing Aztecs' (1976), 'Why Me?' (1983), 'Don't Ask' (1993), 'What's the Worst That Could Happen?' (1996), 'Ask the Parrot' (2006) and 'Get Real' (2009)
    Wrote the screenplays for 'Cops and Robbers' (1973), 'The Stepfather' (1987), 'The Grifters' (1990) and 'Ripley Under Ground' (2005)
    Early in his career, he supported himself writing soft-core porn paperbacks.
    He wrote under more than a dozen pseudonyms.
    One of his pseudonymous novels, 'Comfort Station,' bore the blurb, ''I wish I had written this book' -- Donald E. Westlake.'
    He said if he had realized Parker was going to become a recurring character he would have given him a different name because, 'For 27 books, I've had to find some other way to say, 'Parker parked the car.''
    When the model of Smith-Corona typewriter that he used for his writing was discontinued, he bought all the extras and spare parts he could find so he would never have to change.
    He co-wrote the pilot episode for the notorious flop TV series 'Supertrain.' (1979)
    He is one of only three writers to have won the Mystery Writers of America's Edgar Award in three different categories: best novel ('God Save the Mark,' 1968), best short story ('Too Many Crooks,' 1990) and best screenplay ('The Grifters,' 1991).
    He explained his many pen names by noting, 'In the beginning, people didn't want to publish more than one book a year by the same author.'
    He said that he wanted to emulate his favorite writers, Dashiell Hammett and Vladimir Nabokov, 'in leaving all emotion completely unstated in a book that's totally about emotion. Let physical description of the surface suggest the storms within.'
    He was successful with both the comic Dortmunder series and the hard boiled Parker novels.
    Mystery author Lawrence Block said that Westlake 'has never written a bad sentence.'
    Other admirers of his work include Harlan Ellison, Quentin Tarantino (who said the Parker books influenced 'Reservoir Dogs') and William Kristol (who said he should have been nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature).

Credit: C. Fishel

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