Friday, October 1, 2010

Robert B. Parker and the Future of Western Fiction

Did he make an impact? I don't know, but it would be nice to think so.

I just finished Blue-Eyed Devil, the fourth (and last?) book in the Cole & Hitch series. I enjoyed every word, of course, just like I every other Parker novel so far in print. And I have to wonder . . . Will his five Westerns have any lasting effect on the field?

Stuck in the Dallas airport for a layover recently, I visited a bookstore and checked out the Western section. Their stock consisted of 48 titles by Louis L'Amour (yep, I counted) and two by Parker. To me, that seems like real progress. For booksellers to think anybody other than L'Amour (or Zane Grey or Max Brand) is worth stocking represents a change in their thinking.

Hopefully, Parker's Westerns will be reprinted and kept on the racks for some years to come. Will they inspire other popular authors to jump the fence and give the genre a try? Will they prompt others to emulate Parker's style? Will his publisher or estate seek out another writer to continue the Cole & Hitch series?

Again, I don't know. But he definitely shined a little light on the genre, and that can't hurt!


Randy Johnson said...

I haven't read this one yet. I know in some circles it's popular to slag on Parker and, though i don't think they quite equal his early success, I've never read a Parker title that I didn't enjoy.

What else can you ask of a writer?

Craig Clarke said...

I agree that it's great that someone of such a high profile as Parker (and who will likely retain a high profile for some time) chose to dabble in Westerns. Of course, that they're easy, engaging reads doesn't hurt. I hope the publisher does choose somebody to continue the series. Based on the style, my choice would be Bob Randisi.

Unknown said...

Maybe Gene Hackman can turn things around.

Laurie Powers said...

lol, Bill. And blockbuster western movies like True Grit. Hopefully this trend will continue.

Charles Gramlich said...

I have one of his earlier westerns but haven't read it yet. I went through a Spencer phase but haven't read Parker in awhile.

Richard R. said...

My favorite western writers are Bill Crider and James Reasoner. Paul Powers too.

Oscar Case said...

Finished reading Appaloosa a couple weeks ago and enjoyed it very much.

Cap'n Bob said...

For the right money I'd be happy to carry on the Parker legacy.

D.M. McGowan said...

I need to read some more of Parker's westerns. Yes, Appaloosa was a great piece of entertainment.
The bookstore didn't have any of my books?