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November 15, 2011


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As far as I'm concerned, this book is a masterpiece. I recently read THE BLACK ICE SCORE, which is, I think, the eleventh Parker novel, and THE JUGGER still towers over the rest. And I say that while enthusiastically acknowledging that there hasn't been a bad one in the bunch.

But THE JUGGER is the most chilling. It's a bad place to start, if you're new to the books, because it breaks pretty sharply from the formula, and part of its power comes from that, but Westlake takes Parker about as far as he can within the limits and the logic of the character, and it gives one the shivers.

Of course, THE BLACK ICE SCORE is not lacking in chilling moments itself. It's amazing how much variety Westlake can squeeze out of the heist structure, and there's one scene in THE BLACK ICE SCORE that doesn't involve Parker at all, which is one of the more skin-crawlingly casual portrayals of violence I've read. I like these books very much, is what I'm saying.

Glenn Kenny

Yeah, I'm going through all the Parker novels in order, rereading some, discovering others anew, and THE JUGGER is quite special. It's definitely one that the post-structuralists should go for, in that it achieves its quintessential status via the ABSENCE of what is the salient element in all the other novels' storylines. And, yes, it is absolutely chilling and almost hilarious in its fatalism. It's kind of funny that Westlake got to take Godard's "Made In USA" out of circulation given that it's relatively clear from the film that AT MOST Godard MAYBE only read the plot outline on the back cover of the paperback or something.

As for the above character sketch, it definitely has an, um, emotional resonance for me...


My favorite in the series is "Butcher's Moon," the last of the original group of Parker novels, (a follow-up to "Slayground," one of the most cinematic of the series, a forerunner to Die Hard, with an inexplicably botched film version released in the early 80s) which is arguably the most epic Parker as well as the rare venture into "This time it's personal" plotting, further linking the series with Stark's other series, the generally lighter Grofield novels.

Taylor Hackford is directing the upcoming film "Parker," with Jason Statham (not a terrible choice) in the role, though I haven't seen any specific source novel listed, which suggests all they're taking from Westlake/Stark's fantastic novels may be the character name and the idea of a bitchin' thief.

Michael Adams

I've just read a nearly perfect example of hard-boiled fatalism: Black Wings Has My Angel by Elliott Chaze. Would make a terrific film.

Paul Duane

It's a shame that Westlake/Stark has been so badly served by cinema - more Westlake than Stark, as Point Blank is at least a bona fide masterpiece, and The Outfit is pretty terrific too. I remember years back Michael Lehmann being very excited about adapting DEW's The Axe (which ended up being filmed, in a desultory manner, by Costa-Gavras), and I'm sure there have been many other nearly-were situations over the years. However, the ones that actually got made have usually been of the sort that have Jack Davis posters (not in itself a bad thing, but a signifier of a certain sort of ambition).

Pete Segall

The University of Chicago Press is having a pretty big sale right now, which includes a lot of their rereleased Parker novels.



I have no faith in Hackford's film. It would be great to be proven wrong, but Statham's presence indicates that Parker will be portrayed as the world's best and most focused thief, but the far more troubling aspects of his morality, or complete absence of, will be scrubbed away.

The first Westlake books I loved were THE AXE and THE HOOK. Both are brilliant, still, and both have been adapted into these obscure, tucked away little films that I'm fairly curious about but don't know if I even have the option of seeing them. Outside of those, and the few Parker adaptations, Westlake's comic novels seemed to be picked up with a lot more frequency. Which is sort of strange. I know that, broadly, he's more commercially known as a writer of comic caper novels, but I would think filmmakers would largely gravitate towards the several dozen darker novels he wrote. I mean, couldn't someone take a crack at HUMANS?

@ Glenn - "It's definitely one that the post-structuralists should go for, in that it achieves its quintessential status via the ABSENCE of what is the salient element in all the other novels' storylines."

Absolutely. There is something so pure about THE JUGGER. As for "almost hilarious in its fatalism", wait'll you get to THE SEVENTH, if you haven't already. The fatalism in that one is actually deliberately comic, in my opinion, without actually containing any jokes. It's a book where you can almost see Westlake at his typewriter saying "Fuck it", to great effect.

Glenn Kenny

No joke: I would LOVE to see a Parker novel adapted for cinema in the style of Chantal Akerman's "Jeanne Dielman."

David Ehrenstein

THE JUGGER was memorably filmed by Jean-Luc Godard as MADE IN USA, starring Anna karina and Lazslo Szabo.

It was shot simultaneously with 2 OR 3 THING I KNOW ABOUT HER.

Georges de Beauregeard needed a film to book when LA RELIGIUESE was banned so he asked Godard to oblige of he could, cause Godard works fast.


Godard, huh? Well how about that.

And Glenn, as I haven't watched JEANNE DIELMAN yet (though I "have the DVD", which might be the modern day equivalent of "No, but I saw the movie"), but based on what I know of the film, and applying that to a Parker adaptation, yes, I would watch the pants off that.

David Ehrenstein



I like the idea of Parker adapted in the style of Akerman and if Soderbergh can film a crime thriller in the manner of RED DESERT then....well, just don't offer it to Universal.

I used to resent Westlake for blocking MADE IN USA until I read his side of the story of getting screwed by de Beauregeard in McGilligan's Backstory.

Talk of untapped hardboiled writers makes me realize James Crumley will never reach the screen.


I would love to see every 2.35:1 movie look as sharp, stable and colourful on humble DVD as Criterion's 'Made in USA' does.

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