Sarah Weinman pointed me to this fascinating interview with Robert B. Parker. I have a lot of emotional attachment to the Spenser novels… I loved reading the early ones and my first job in television was writing an episode of “Spenser: For Hire.” (by the way, that’s a picture of me with Parker at the Edgars a few years back).
The comment in the interview that sticks with me the most, and apparently Sarah as well, is:
Parker: I write 10 pages a day. When I’m done with it that day, it’s what you see on the printed page. Maybe the spelling is improved or the punctuation changed, but essentially you’re looking at my first draft. I don’t do a second draft.
That’s no surprise to anybody who has been reading him lately. I listened to four of his unabridged books-on-tape over a relatively short period… BAD BUSINESS, STONE COLD, GUNMAN’S RHAPSODY, and DOUBLE PLAY…and was struck by how much he repeats the same dialogue, observations, and situations over and over, particularly ending chapters with the hero, or his girl, saying “We’d be fools not to.” That said, I loved listening to all four books. His lean, snappy, dialogue-heavy writing style is perfectly suited to the audiobook medium…and his regular performers, Joe Mantegna (the Spensers) and Robert Forster (the Jesse Stones) in particular, are terrific.
I suspect if I’d read the latest Parker books, I wouldn’t have enjoyed them as much and the repeated dialogue and situations would have grated on me more. Somehow, you’re a lot more forgiving to an author when you’re a captive audience stuck in gridlocked traffic.