Robert B ParkerJanuary 19th, 2010
Robert B Parker, one of my favorite writers and creator of the Spenser series, just passed away (rumor has it at his desk, writing) at age 77.
If you’re a Spenser fan, you know why I’m so bummed about that. No more Spenser, Hawk, and Susan to look forward to.
If you’re not familiar with Mr. Parker’s work, well, pick up one of his books (I recommend starting at the beginning of the Spenser series, but I also like his new Western series, Appaloosa, and the Jesse Stone mystery novels), and you’ll see why we’re all a little choked up.
Did you know during the course of the 38 book Spenser series, Spenser’s first name was never revealed? I hope it never will be!
There are lots of writers and readers posting things right now to tell you what Mr. Parker meant to them and to the world of mystery writing (and just to writing in general…his popularity spanned genres), and I don’t know if I really have anything new to add.
But I thought I’d share what Mr. Parker meant to me personally anyway:
Besides being hugely entertaining and inspiring to me (I just love the way he wrote), his books provided a way for me to connect with my dad, with whom I had a very difficult relationship, especially during the later years of my dad’s life.
There was nearly always a beat-up mystery novel tossed across the seat of my dad’s armchair in the living room. More often than not, it was a Spenser novel he was re-reading. Both of us had a soft-spot for Spenser, an old school hero with very modern attitudes, especially about feminism and gay rights.
I like to think that, if he had ever overcome his inner demons, my dad would have been just like Spenser (minus the gun, of course).
Whenever Mr. Parker had a signing somewhere I was going to be, I’d go and stand in line to shake his hand and get a signed Spenser novel for my dad…even after my dad was dead.
I never told Mr. Parker all the times I met him why I was there or what his books meant to me.
I didn’t feel like I had to. I always got the feeling from Mr. Parker that he got it, without my having to say anything.
Which is one of the reasons I think he’ll be so sorely missed in the literary world. He just got it.
And though I’m really, really sad there won’t be any more adventures with Spenser, Susan, and Hawk, I’m also really grateful to Mr. Parker for writing all the books he did…
…not just for the world of mystery writing, but for me. And for my dad.