More on Robert Parker
January 23, 2010
ROBERT PARKER always said he would write until the day he died. As usual, he was as good as his word. He died this week while writing at his desk.
It was always fun to visit Bob in his office, where he worked six days a week, completing five pages of manuscript each day. Although he said he couldn't imagine doing anything else and never complained about it, writing was work. He edited while he wrote, constantly paring down the manuscript. Many critics compared his lean sparse writing to Hemingway and Faulkner. He was equally famous for his witty and engaging dialogue.
I first met Bob in New York at a book signing at the Mysterious Bookshop, where I worked. I came into the room where there were people dressed for cocktails - a lot of black and gold and wine glasses. Bob was seated at a big desk piled with books to sign, dressed in blue jeans and a work shirt. "My kind of guy,'' I thought.
I called him when I opened Kate's Mystery Books, and he stopped by with champagne and flowers. He stopped by many times after that - to sign books, host an event, visit with out-of -town authors, or help put up book shelves.
Bob did more than open creative doors, though. He wrote blurbs for young writers, helped them find editors and agents, and helped them navigate the tricky worlds of TV and film. As he became more prosperous, he and his wife, Joan, supported local arts and community groups with their many donations. Neither of them looked for attention for their generosity. They did what they could to help.
Bob was always a little bewildered by all the attention, thrilled he could provide for his family, and appreciative of the support and good will people gave him. Like Spenser, Bob was honorable, candid, and he had a strong sense of justice and a belief in how people should treat each other - all things he did his best to live by and write about. And he did this with wit and humor. He may be gone, but what a legacy he leaves us.