Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Attention must be paid

Robert B. Parker has died, and I have lost a friend.

He was the author of the best-selling Spenser books, as well as the Jesse Stone and Sunny Randall mysteries. He was presumed to be in good health, which is why his death (at his desk) was such a shock.

Of the 37 published Spenser books, I have read 34. Of the remaining 3, one is in my TBR pile waiting for me, one is a "young adult" novel, and one is called The Widening Gyre, and the title annoys me. I believe that Spenser would approve of my reason for passing on The Widening Gyre, because, like me, he was a flippant smart ass who was unable to keep his opinions to himself.

Mortal Stakes is not only my favorite Parker/Spenser books, it's one of my favorite books of all time, any genre. More than "just" a mystery, it's about imperfect love, loyalty, and baseball -- three of the most interesting topics I can imagine.

I understood Spenser because:

• He loved Fenway and would rather listen to the Red Sox than watch them.

• He thought he lived in the best city in the world, Boston, "The Athens of America."

• He loved the often-annoying Susan Silverman more than his next breath, but wanted neither to live with nor marry her.

• He believed monogamous sex could be sexy.

• He loved and trusted his best friend, Hawk.

And, because he was my friend, I got annoyed with Spenser. He wasn't aging gracefully, and his attitude toward women was just sooooo frustrating! But while I acknowledged his flaws, I loved him all the same.

When Michael Jackson died, it seemed the world stopped. Oh, the shock! Oh, the heartache! That's why I'm pissed right now. For the last 10 years, I read every Spenser book as it came out and then went back and read the others. Robert Parker's output was more reliable, and had a greater impact on me, than Jacko's. (Prior to his death, Jackson hadn't had a hit album in the US since HIStory in 1995.)

That's why, on this blog, we demand a bit of respect for the journeyman/artist. The disciplined craftsman. An author who worked hard to keep us entertained and to stay true to the characters he created ... and I loved.

So while there won't be magazine covers or TV specials devoted to Robert B. Parker, I'm saluting him here. There's a dignity to working hard, facing the problems that life sends our way head on, and maintaining your integrity to the end. And dying at your desk ... writing.

God bless you and RIP, RBP.


  1. Very nice salute. I love his books, too.

  2. I'm just starting to read his books (as you know), and I'm so sad that I'll never have the pleasure of eagerly awaiting "the next Spenser book."

    Interestingly, even though I'm on the internet a lot, read several news sites, book-y blogs, etc. the only mentions I've heard of Parkers death are your blog and a brief comment from my husband last night.

  3. OMG is all that I can say. I read last night of his death and I am sooooo upset. I have just discovered him. I have read all of the Jessee Stone books to date...wait, there won't be anymore! Oh boo hoo! Now on to tackle the Spenser novels. Should I read them in the order they were written or just read them?