Paper $18.00 ISBN: 9780226121819 Published September 2014
E-book $18.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226121956 Published September 2014

The Getaway Car

A Donald Westlake Nonfiction Miscellany

Donald E. Westlake

Donald E. Westlake

Edited and with an Introduction by Levi Stahl
With a Foreword by Lawrence Block
256 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2014
Paper $18.00 ISBN: 9780226121819 Published September 2014
E-book $18.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226121956 Published September 2014
Over the course of a fifty-year career, Donald E. Westlake published nearly one hundred books, including not one but two long-running series, starring the hard-hitting Parker and the hapless John Dortmunder. In the six years since his death, Westlake’s reputation has only grown, with fans continuing to marvel at his tightly constructed plots, no-nonsense prose, and keen, even unsettling, insights into human behavior.
With The Getaway Car, we get our first glimpse of another side of Westlake the writer: what he did when he wasn’t busy making stuff up. And it’s fascinating. Setting previously published pieces, many little seen, alongside never-before-published material found in Westlake’s working files, the book offers a clear picture of the man behind the books—including his thoughts on his own work and that of his peers, mentors, and influences. The book opens with revealing (and funny) fragments from an unpublished autobiography, then goes on to offer an extended history of private eye fiction, a conversation among Westlake’s numerous pen names, letters to friends and colleagues, interviews, appreciations of fellow writers, and much, much more. There’s even a recipe for Sloth à la Dortmunder. Really.
Rounded out with a foreword by Westlake’s longtime friend Lawrence Block, The Getaway Car is a fitting capstone to a storied career and a wonderful opportunity to revel anew in the voice and sensibility of a master craftsman.
Publishers Weekly
"Delightful and revealing. . . . A must-have for Westlake fans."
“An absolute must-read for Westlake’s legion of fans, this wonderful collection showcases the late mystery writer’s nonfiction skills. . . . Westlake’s writing here is as compelling, as seemingly effortlessly entertaining, as it is in his fiction. A great collection and a reminder of just how talented an author Westlake was.”
“Westlake kept a list of possible book titles, the last of which was Read Me. It would have been just the right one for this bright, witty book.”
Charles Ardai
“Westlake was a treasure and a delight to read—the man was incapable of writing a paragraph without being witty and memorable and wise—and Westlake on Westlake is enjoyable in the extreme.”
David Morrell, author of First Blood
“I never met anyone who spoke about writing with greater wit or wisdom than Don Westlake. Reading these essays makes me feel as if, once again, he is talking to me, making me laugh as I learn.”
Ed Gorman
“A serious, hilarious, penetrating look at the process of writing and the soul of the person creating it. Westlake’s analysis of genre fiction, especially crime fiction, is unmatched. Levi Stahl should win the Edgar for his magnificent work. A masterpiece.”
Weekly Standard
“Granted full access to Westlake’s archives, Stahl has done a superb job of panning gold from Westlake’s river of personal material. The Getaway Car inspires us to sit down with a bottle of Amsterdam Liquor Store Bourbon—“Our Own Brand”—to toast a genius and to count our blessings that we have one more chance to savor Westlake’s words.In normal gold-panning, the trick is ferreting out enough tiny nuggets to make it worthwhile. But here, judiciousness is called for, knowing which nuggets to feature from the embarrassment of riches. Westlake’s friend and fellow crime novelist Lawrence Block has written a loving foreword, praising Stahl for ‘separating the best of the wheat from the rest of the wheat—Don didn’t do chaff.’ . . . The Getaway Car inspires us to sit down with a bottle of Amsterdam Liquor Store Bourbon—‘Our Own Brand’—to toast a genius and to count our blessings that we have one more chance to savor Westlake’s words.”
The Westlake Review
“While nothing could be as precious as an undiscovered Westlake novel, this anthology comes very close–because it finally gives us context, background details, a basis on which to really start to understand the man behind all those felonious plans, comic capers, and sometimes searing insights into human nature, and our perpetually confused understanding of ourselves.”
Shelf Awareness
“Many fans of crime fiction and capers consider Westlake among the best writers in the field. He published more than 100 books and received a Grand Master citation from the Mystery Writers of America. Those who love his work and such memorable characters as Parker, John Dortmunder and Sam Holt can now rejoice; collected here are essays, letters (one to Stephen King), interviews, an autobiographical fragment (in which he explains why being born in Brooklyn saved his infant life) and a recipe for John Dortmunder’s companion May’s tuna casserole. Some pieces have never been published before.”
Michael Dirda | Washington Post
“’The Getaway Car’ may seem an odd title for a nonfiction miscellany, but it derives from a remark by Abby Adams Westlake. Her husband, she said, ‘no matter where he was headed, always drove like he was behind the wheel of the getaway car.’ That suggests something of the rush and exhilaration with which most readers will turn these pages.”
William Kristol | Wall Street Journal
“Westlake was a storyteller of amazing inventiveness and range, of comic capers and noir thrillers, of manic romps and melancholy tales, of wacky adventures and clever conceits. His novels are set in the America he lived in. If you were to read widely in the Westlake oeuvre, you’d get a better education in the many complexities of American life than you would if you were to spend years studying for a Ph.D. in sociology or American studies. . . . But, more important, if you were to read widely in Westlake, you’d be endlessly entertained. You’ll be similarly entertained by the The Getaway Car,—its contents run from substantial essays and admiring portraits of predecessors like Rex Stout and James Thurber to amusing interviews and reflections on Westlake’s own work.”
Washington Independent Review of Books
“Westlake is rightly celebrated for the quality of his writing; the sheer tonnage of plot, character, and dialogue he produced was impressive, yet it never outweighed his talent. In The Getaway Car, editor Levi Stahl has assembled a diverse set of letters, interviews, and other documents that reveal what Westlake himself thought of his work—the business of writing, the process, and the resulting product of his labor.”
Seattle Times
“The late Donald Westlake was a virtuoso composer of caper novels, both comic and deadly serious. The Getaway Car proves he was also a gifted nonfiction writer. Who knew? This collection of essays, autobiographical notes, interview transcripts and whatnot is a wondrous look into Westlake’s bemused head. One highlight is a dissection of what makes pulp fiction tick (Westlake himself spent years in the pulp trenches).”
Daily Beast
“Is a posthumous collection of miscellaneous pieces (even one as smartly edited as this one) a good place to first encounter a writer known for his fiction? Normally I would say no, but in Westlake’s case, there really is no wrong way to approach his work. It is after all his sensibility—funny, fatalistic, humane but never sappy and always a little off kilter—that gives his writing its flavor, and you can find that sensibility in these pages as surely as you can in the novels. Because ultimately Westlake was not this kind of writer, or that kind, not a crime writer, or a satirist, or a comedian. He was just a writer, and as good as they come.”

Foreword by Lawrence Block
Editor’s Introduction

1 My Second Life: Fragments from an Autobiography

2 Donald E. Westlake, a.k.a. . . .
Hearing Voices in My Head: Tucker Coe, Timothy J. Culver, Richard Stark and Donald E. Westlake
Living with a Mystery Writer, by Abby Adams
Writers on Writing: A Pseudonym Returns From an Alter-Ego Trip, With New Tales to Tell

3 So Tell Me about This Job We’re Gonna Pull: On Genre
The Hardboiled Dicks
Introduction to Murderous Schemes
Introduction to The Best American Mystery Stories, 2000
Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You

4 Ten Most Wanted: Ten Favorite Mystery Books

5 Returning to the Scene of the Crime: On His Own Work
Introduction to Levine
Tangled Webs for Sale: Best Offer
Introduction to Kahawa
Letter to Howard B. Gotlieb, Boston University Libraries

6 Lunch Break: May’s Famous Tuna Casserole

7 The Other Guys in the String: Peers, Favorites, and Influences
Lawrence Block: First Sighting
On Peter Rabe
Playing Politics with a Master of Dialogue: On George V. Higgins
On Rex Stout
Introduction to Jack Ritchie’s A New Leaf and Other Stories
Foreword to Thurber on Crime
Introduction to Charles Willeford’s The Way We Die Now
On Stephen Frears
John D. MacDonald: A Remembrance

8 Coffee Break: Letter to Ray Broekel

9 Anything You Say May Be Used against You: Interviews
An Inside Look at Donald Westlake, by Albert Nussbaum, 81332-132
The Worst Happens: From an Interview by Patrick McGilligan

10 Midnight Snack: Gustatory Notes from All Over

11 Side Jobs: Prison Breaks, Movie Mobsters, and Radio Comedy
Love Stuff, Cops-and-Robbers Style
Send In the Goons

12 Signed Confessions: Letters
To Judy ?
To Peter Gruber
To James Hale
To Stephen and Tabitha King
To Brian Garfield
To David Ramus
To Pam Vesey
To Gary Salt
To Henry Morrison
To Jon L. Breen

13 Jobs Never Pulled: Title Ideas
Crime Titles
Comic Crime Titles

14 Death Row (Or, The Happily Ever Afterlife): Letter to Ralph L. Woods

Name Index

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