Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Robert B. Parker: 1932-2010

I was stunned today to learn of the death of author Robert B. Parker. I feel like I've lost a close friend, if not an actual family member. I've been a voracious reader since my youth, and learned to love the works of such writers as Agatha Christie, John D. MacDonald, Ross Thomas, Donald Westlake. I mourned the passing of each one, sad that there would be no more books from them. Now, Robert B. Parker has been added to that list.

Today, Amazon posted an abbreviated biography, and I'd like to reproduce portions of it here.

"Robert B. Parker (1932-2010) has long been acknowledged as the dean of American crime fiction. His novel featuring the wise-cracking, street-smart Boston private-eye Spenser earned him a devoted following and reams of critical acclaim...

"Born and raised in Massachusetts, Parker attended Colby College in Maine, served with the Army in Korea, and then completed a Ph.D. in English at Boston University. He married his wife Joan in 1956; they raised two sons, David and Daniel...

"Parker began writing his Spenser novels in 1971 while teaching at Boston's Northeastern University. Little did he suspect then that his witty, literate prose and psychological insights would make him keeper-of-the-flame of America's rich tradition of detective fiction. Parker's fictional Spenser inspired the ABC-TV series Spenser: For Hire...

"Parker was named Grand Master of the 2002 Edgar Awards by the Mystery Writers of America, an honor shared with earlier masters such as Alfred Hitchcock and Ellery Queen.

"Parker died on January 19, 2010, at the age of 77."

During the darkest days of my life, the fourteen days when my wife, Cynthia, lay in the ICU of Zale University Hospital in a coma from which she would never recover, I passed the time by reading through all of Parker's novels. Each day, I managed to lose myself for a while in the adventures of his protagonists--Spenser, Jesse Stone, Sunny Randall--buoyed by the word pictures he painted and the stories he crafted. For this, I'll always be grateful.

1 comment:

Mark Grace said...

Man, I love this column on so many different levels (somehow calling what you did here a "blog" or a "post" just doesn't do it justice). I'm a fan of Parker's also and was touched twice by your remembrance of him. I have had lots of opportunity to witness family members trying to stitch together the long hours of waiting with books that others might call mere diversion, but which in those times somehow take on the role of a life buoy. Thanks for sharing your experience here.