Donald E. Westlake's Forever and a Death


#1

I’m sure most of you have heard of this novel. Westlake was chosen to write a screenplay for Bond 18. It didn’t work but he used his ideas in this novel – which by the way is superb, a classic thriller.
Anyway, I was curious what would Bond 18 be like if Westlake completed his screenplay. And it was fun to read and guess which elements of the novel were meant to be seen on screen.
I also recommend reading Jeff Kleeman’s afterword. He was a United Artists’ employee at the time who collaborated with Westlake. He explains why it didn’t work out and which elements of his drafts Westlake used in the novel.


#2

Unboxing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCiUcjZuwnE

And review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rhJYaXFN04o


#3

Great review ggl007 (yours, by the way?). I enjoyed it probably a bit more than the reviewer. Of course it’s not a masterpiece, but a very entertaining, somewhat old school type of thriller. I agree that the cover is very misleading. I also expected a James Bond novel only without the character of 007 (replaced by a different secret agent for obvious reasons).


#4

No, not me. I found it online. :slight_smile:


#5

I see :wink:. Still, good review. Anyway, I’ll try to find some other Westlake’s novels. Judging by the one I read - he’s a really good writer.


#6

Absolutely do. Westlake was not just a great thriller writer, he was a fine storyteller period. Pick up some of his Parker novels. And then dip into his Dortmunder series, which is also quite funny. You’ll find a body of work frequently more entertaining than the efforts of many current thriller writers. And, despite being truly hardboiled, much less inclined to splatter and gore than most of the ‘hip’ gun-and-torture porn brigade you find at the airport newsagents.


#7

Thanks Dustin. Is there any particular novel I should start with? What I really liked about Forever and a Death was that Westlake wasn’t trying to shock. There were no forced twists and turns which are drawbacks of modern thrillers. Loved it.


#8

The Dortmunder and Parker novels employ a loose continuity, i.e. earlier events are sometimes mentioned but you’re not required to have read the books. That said, it’s interesting to read them in sequence for the development of the character in terms of the iterations they go through.

Parker is one huge amoral stone of a criminal who’s only out to take revenge from the go - but gradually we become familiar with him and in spite of his not having any sympathetic traits we are fascinated by his progress and the way he overcomes even the greatest odds, taking on the Mob, the KGB and all kinds of weird characters and bizarre heists. A high mark of the series are the four titles Deadly Edge - Slayground - Plunder Squad - Butcher’s Moon which you might want to read in sequence.

The Dortmunders are actually their own subgenre, comical heist with a Big Apple local patriotism, and they feature a whole troupe of oddball criminals, hustlers, dealers, pushers, specialists for this and that. The first one, The Hot Rock, was adapted to the screen in 1972 with Robert Redford, George Segal, Ron Leibman and Moses Gunn. Due to their nature many weird and hilarious things happen, mostly crushing Dortmunder’s intricate plans and forcing him and his team to improvise.

Here is a little appetiser on Westlake/Stark…

And here is a link to The Westlake Review, a most helpful site when setting out to discover Westlake’s œuvre.


#9

Great, thanks for your help, Dustin. I’ve just bought The Hunter on eBay. Looking forward to reading it!


#10

The Hunter was adapted as Point Blank with Lee Marvin and Angie Dickinson. Great classic!


#11

A great writer and what a great hook to release a book, based upon the ideas as offered to a James Bond movie. I am a fan of Parker and have read all of them bar three and I have them but am savoring them for a rainy day when I really need a cheer up.
The story is a great thriller and a fun ride. The Epilogue written by a EON producer is a great extra for any movie and Westlake & Bond fan.
A great release, even if the book could have used some more quality treatment is somewhat shoddy as an endproduct