Donald E. Westlake: The Ax

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Thread: Donald E. Westlake: The Ax

  1. #1
    WF Veteran FleshEater's Avatar
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    Donald E. Westlake: The Ax

    So, I had never heard of Westlake before, and was actually recommended his writing by two members of another forum. I love finding new authors so I picked up The Ax as it was highly recommended by them as being one of his best works. And, I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised to see how amazing Westlake's story and style was.

    For anyone that likes an interesting crime story, I highly recommend Westlake's The Ax. It's written in the first person present tense and once it gets going, it never stops. The emotion captured in this novel is amazing, and you can almost feel yourself decline into depravity with the main character because he's so real you can't help but relate.

    I loved this and anticipate reading more material by Westlake in the very near future.

    My two cents...
    “Put a gun to my head and paint the wall with my brains.”
    ― Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club
    “Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what’s wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.” —Neil Gaiman

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by FleshEater View Post
    So, I had never heard of Westlake before, and was actually recommended his writing by two members of another forum. I love finding new authors so I picked up The Ax as it was highly recommended by them as being one of his best works. And, I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised to see how amazing Westlake's story and style was.

    For anyone that likes an interesting crime story, I highly recommend Westlake's The Ax. It's written in the first person present tense and once it gets going, it never stops. The emotion captured in this novel is amazing, and you can almost feel yourself decline into depravity with the main character because he's so real you can't help but relate.

    I loved this and anticipate reading more material by Westlake in the very near future.

    My two cents...
    Check out his Parker novels under the pen-name 'Richard Stark.' My favorite is The Outfit. They're the hardest of the hard-boiled -- nothing resembling a 'good guy' appears in Parker's pragmatic universe, just various forms of heel. Despite that, they are enormous fun, and the writing is just gorgeous.

  3. #3
    WF Veteran FleshEater's Avatar
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    I have the first installment on its way to my door as we speak.
    “Put a gun to my head and paint the wall with my brains.”
    ― Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club
    “Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what’s wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.” —Neil Gaiman

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by FleshEater View Post
    I have the first installment on its way to my door as we speak.
    The Hunter? It's excellent (though, as I said, I prefer The Outfit) -- and was the basis of John Boorman's classic film Point Blank, with Lee Marvin.

    Odd bit of trivia: Westlake considered the character of Parker to be 'unadaptable' to a conventional Hollywood film, since he guess (rightly) that the producers would soften him and make him more 'heroic' -- so he actually had it written into any film sale that they had to use a different name for the central character.

  5. #5
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    Yes, The Hunter. I wanted to start at the beginning.

    That's awesome he did that!

    Leyline, when you were reading The Ax, did you find it amazing that Westlake made you sympathize with both the victim and the murderer on the hit and run kill? I remember feeling so sorry for both men, and I was thinking that I should be hating the murderer for what he did, but I couldn't. Also, I'm keeping this general so as to not spoil the novel too much for anyone interested.
    “Put a gun to my head and paint the wall with my brains.”
    ― Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club
    “Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what’s wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.” —Neil Gaiman

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by FleshEater View Post

    Leyline, when you were reading The Ax, did you find it amazing that Westlake made you sympathize with both the victim and the murderer on the hit and run kill? I remember feeling so sorry for both men, and I was thinking that I should be hating the murderer for what he did, but I couldn't. Also, I'm keeping this general so as to not spoil the novel too much for anyone interested.
    I haven't read The Ax, but this doesn't surprise me at all. In the 'Parker' universe, nothing like a conventional 'good guy' exists. In Westlake's 'Dortmunder' universe (which are very comic in execution), nothing like a conventional 'bad guy' exists. Westlake mainly disliked the black and white mindset that genre fiction so often presented. In The Outfit (which takes place in the earl 60's, remember) there's a delightful scene where Parker and his ally, on a mission of revenge, surprise a black chauffeur who thinks they've come to kill him because he has a white woman in his room. Both of them are slightly off-put by this because their brutal lives have no room for judgments beyond 'Is this guy helping me or hurting me?' and Parker actually expresses sympathy for the chauffeur since he's going to kill his boss and put him out of work, that being something Parker does understand. There's another wonderful scene where the guy they've come to kill (in every respect a bad, bad man) is highly concerned that he isn't pretending well enough to be interested in his wife, who he only married to help establish a legitimate front for his criminal activities. Even though he doesn't love her, he wants her to be happy and content because he doesn't think of himself as a jerk.

    Westlake is great.

  7. #7
    WF Veteran FleshEater's Avatar
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    I just got The Hunter in the mail. However, Lansdale's Edge of Dark Water and Koontz's Intensity accompanied it here...which to read first?!

    Also, you should definitely check out The Ax Leyline...I think you'll love it.
    “Put a gun to my head and paint the wall with my brains.”
    ― Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club
    “Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what’s wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.” —Neil Gaiman

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