Friday, January 29, 2010

BEST BOOKS

Forty-seven-books by Robert B. Parker are on the baker's rack in my living room.

I'm not a book collector. At various times in my life, I've been a voracious reader. I like to read at bedtime, and there's nothing like a Parker to take my mind away from myself, into another plain.

Right off the bat, he gets me into a scene, a world, a character. The language is simple, basic American. The dialogue is easy reading. After page 1, off I go, into the issues at stake for him or her.

Quite by accident, I saw a news flash, heard Robert Parker's name, and learned he died January 18th.
I wrote his name on my "do next" list. And pushed it out of my mind. Much, later, at the end of my work day, I raced upstairs to the baker's rack, to fumble through the row of Parker books, looking for my favorites. The row of his books is almost four feet long.

Though I haven't had time since I began blogging a year ago, to do any re-reading, or to buy the latest Parker, every single book in my row of Parkers was familiar. But, the titles didn't tell me if it was a plot with whats-his-name, or whats-her-name -- and I couldn't remember the name of my favorite, the book I love -- the book I found myself looking for.

Was it. "Deuce" something? No, my favorite Parker book was "Double Play." I raced around checking the shelf next to our bed, ran downstairs to check the shelf in my office. Back upstairs again, I found the book on the bottom shelf of the baker's rack.

I don't have time to re-read it -- not now, not this week. I found myself wanting to know how old author Robert B Parker was , and why he died?

I learned he was at his desk. It probably was a heart attack. He was 77. The pictures of him on the book jackets show that he's overweight, so "heart attack" makes sense.

Parker's most famous detective-self is a guy named Spenser. There are two other Parker detective-selves that I know well, and enjoy -- police chief Jessie Stone and girl/woman Sunny Randall. There are also, on my shelf, nine other Parker books that are novels, not mysteries.

I have re-read all the Parkers. When I re-read, for me it's as if I'm reading a new book. I vaguely remember where the plot is heading, but the unfolding of the plot, the growth of the characters is amazingly interesting -- I feel as if Parker is letting me into himself -- HE is inside the men and the women who are central to his stories.

The dog lover is there, no matter what role the author was playing as he wrote the book. The woman detective Sunny Randall IS Parker. Parker is definitely Spenser the detective, earthy, athletic guy, who drinks a lot, cooks superbly, loves women, is deeply in love with the woman with whom he's more or less living. Spenser knows a lot about psychotherapy, modern dance, ballet, literature, poetry, working out, boxing, hiking, guns, injuries, and survival.

I'm very sorry Robert B. Parker is gone. His footprints are in my mind.

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