Between being out of town for Christmas and having guests in town for New Year’s and through the weekend, I’m even more behind than usual on news, reviews, etc. After seeing in this morning’s Washington Post that Donald Westlake died on December 31, I felt compelled to sit down and write short tribute. Then after seeing how much had already been written while I’ve been in absentia from the computer here….
Sarah Weinman’s always-excellent blog already has a near-encyclopedic index of announcements and tributes and stands as the one central source readers here should turn to for information on this topic. In particular, I’d point you to her own appreciation of Westlake in the L.A. Times and to Charles Ardai’s piece for the Guardian‘s Books Blog. (Back in November, when Ardai was interviewed on my site here, he noted how many of the authors he’d worked with at Hard Case Crime had died recently, noting that “the paperback era is dying, and its last representatives are few and dwindling” — and now another loss for that list.)
Struggling with my own novel, I was particularly interested to see in the Post‘s obituary a quote from Westlake about his writing habit: “I write from 10 at night to 4 in the morning, about 7,000 words at a time. It’s like being in the basket of a blimp, working at that hour. It’s wonderful. There’s just one little room with me in it, and I’m sailing through the night wherever the story will go. Just me, alone.”
Such dedication, such joy in writing, and such a vigorous, extraordinary output of novels and stories — it’s a rare thing, to say the least.
The master will be missed.