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The Getaway Car

A Donald Westlake Nonfiction Miscellany

Edited and with an Introduction by Levi Stahl
With a Foreword by Lawrence Block

The Getaway Car

A Donald Westlake Nonfiction Miscellany

Edited and with an Introduction by Levi Stahl
With a Foreword by Lawrence Block
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 The book opens with revealing (and funny) fragments from an unpublished autobiography, then goes on to offer an extended history of private eye fiction, a conversation among Westlake’s numerous pen names, letters to friends and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.

256 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2014

Literature and Literary Criticism: American and Canadian Literature, Humor


“This is a book for everyone, anyone who likes mystery novels or good writing or wit and passion and intelligence, regardless of their source.”

New York Times

“The great Donald E. Westlake, author of some of the best puzzles of the 20th century, turns out to have been a terrific essayist and correspondent, too. Reading this collection of nonfiction is like becoming friends with a mystery novelist.”

Printer's Row

“This book doesn’t disappoint. . . . Westlake was a hugely entertaining and witty writer. Whether he is writing a letter to his editor or about the history of his genre, he remains true to his definition of what makes a great writer: ‘passion, plus craft.’”

P.D. Smith | Guardian

“Almost as much as he enjoyed writing crime novels, Westlake liked to write comments on his own work and on that of his contemporaries and predecessors in the genre. His list of written product includes countless essays, book introductions and prefaces, lists, letters and one memorial (to John D. MacDonald). It’s from this treasure trove of material that an eager beaver academic named Levi Stahl at the University of Chicago has put together the valuable collection he titles The Getaway Car.”

Toronto Star

“A kind of posthumous autobiography, a selection of his occasional nonfiction that gives us a portrait of an interesting mind, a high-spirited friend, a shrewd critic, and a craftsman reflecting on his trade—and of a kind of writing life that may no longer be available. It should appeal not only to fans of Westlake but to anyone who takes pleasure in seeing a job done well or reading a well-turned sentence.”

David Guaspari | The New Criterion

Table of Contents

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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