A Writer’s Writer
Robert Parker wrote dozens of books during his career, but he was famously at odds with the screen versions of his print. It wasn’t until Tom Selleck came along, with his crusty portrayal of Jesse Stone.
Jesse Stone, a hung over hound dog of a cop, one of Parker’s best creations, is played to perfection by Mr. Selleck. Mr. Selleck’s depiction of Jesse Stone is due out tonight with the TV movie entitled, No Remorse.
In past performances the handsome Tom has managed to hang his jowls, brood his brows, and make you think he really is nothing but an over the hill drunk hanging on to his job, life, and a sharply defined, set in concrete, moral compass.
The author, Robert. B Parker, if you glance at a photo on the back of his books, seems to be a hang jowled, brood browed old fossil himself. He looks like an off duty cop with a dog that is higher class than himself. And proud of it.
What most people don’t realize is that Mr. Parker was a Doctor. He wrote his doctoral thesis in literature, and therein seems to give credit to the original bad boys of hard boiled detective fiction–Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler and Ross Macdonald–as his inspiration.
But high brow or low brow, Doc Parker knew how to write. His characters were always pithy, without being stereotypical. Irish, Jewish, Black, Mexican, his people walked the pages of his books with humble and downplayed swagger, reacting only when put upon, perceptive to a fault, and proving that people of different swing could get along, if they held to a sharply defined, set in concrete, moral compass.
Robert B. Parker is gone now, but his influence will be long. People may even discuss the characters of his books in coffee shops and writer’s forums, agreeing while they disagree, and, who knows, someone may even write a doctoral thesis on Parker, his creations like Spenser and Stone, and the value of a moral compass in times of trial and tribulation.
And, then there will be those like this writer, turn on the tube, pass the popcorn, I want to see how tough guys, no matter how bedeviled, deal with the world.
Break a leg, Mr. Selleck, but not that of Doc Parker.