Until he died, I never realized how much he really meant to me. Robert B. Parker, the author of 37 Spenser novels, and some 30 more novels starring Sunny Randall, Jesse Stone and those lovable cowboys Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch, died on Monday at age 77. It seems appropriate that such a prolific writer died at his writing desk, doing what he’s been doing for decades. If you were a fan, Parker had the ability to get in your head and heart and never go away. He made you love his characters and fully believe in their existence. For me, Spenser, Hawk and Susan were three of the most authentic people in my life, despite them being fictional creations. After all, we had so much history together. I started reading about them, and loving them when I was fourteen years old, and I carried them with me throughout my adolescence and into adulthood. There aren’t many relationships in real life that last that long (in my case 26 years). My mother turned me on to the Spenser series and reading these books together, and talking about them, was something special that she and I shared. She’s gone too, but every time I read a Spenser novel, I thought about her. Would she like this one? What would she say about it? It’s kind of sad to think that this is an imaginary conversation I will never have again. I met Parker once (besides seeing him on a plane one time), and when I told him that my mother had turned me on to his writing he said to me: “That’s a good mother.” The comment confirmed to me that Robert B. Parker was Spenser, after all. Which is why I title this post Spenser, R.I.P, and not Robert B. Parker, R.I.P.
From Looking for Rachel Wallace (1980)
“John has warned me that you are a jokester. Well, I am not. If we are to have any kind of successful association, you’d best understand right now that I do not enjoy humor. Whether or not successful.”
“Okay if now and then I enjoy a wry, inward smile if struck by one of life’s vagaries?”
She turned to Ticknor, and said, “John, he won’t do. Get rid of him.’”