The (Last) Return of Donald Westlake


WestlakeCover.jpgThis is a trifecta! I'm able to knit together three previous contacts and/or themes.

#1: Patrick Anderson, who was long ago my mentor/boss on the Carter '76 campaign team, and who since then has been a book writer and regular book reviewer for the Washington Post.

#2: The late Donald Westlake, a master of the comedic crime novel who was so prolific that he adopted a whole slew of pen names, much as Michael Crichton did, to avoid possible recoil at the sheer quantity of his (nonetheless very good) work. Previous mention here.

#3: Charles Ardai, whose wonderful Hard Case crime-novel series I've raved about before.

#1 -> #2 -> #3 harmonic convergence triple play: Two days ago in the Washington Post,  Anderson reviewed The Comedy is Finished, a recently discovered book by Westlake, that is coming out under Ardai's Hard Case imprint. (The book also has one of Hard Case's trademark 1950s pulp-look covers, at right. Another example is below -- from a book by Ardai himself under his alias, Aleas.) I would be a fool to ignore this combination of auguries, so I've ordered the book. Will check in with results.


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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.
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