The Lessons of Robert B. Parker
Robert B. Parker has passed on, and we are left with a wealth of writing. Mr. Parker is the creator of Spenser, private eye of the popular TV series, and a string of engaging novels.
What many people don’t know is that Mr. Parker was a Doctor of Literature. He earned his doctorate in 1971 at Boston U. His thesis was titled ‘The Violent Hero, Wilderness Heritage and Urban Reality.’ It is concerned with the works of the creators of hard boiled fiction such as Dashiel Hammet and Raymond Chandler.
There was formula to Doc Parker’s work, and the formula worked: create engaging characters and have biting dialogue.
The most famous dialogue was between the character Spenser and his friend Hawk. Men of different races, mostly agreeing, but not always, banging through life with only the directions of their stone cold morality to guide them.
Other dialogues included different genders, different sexual persuasions, and so on.
The point the writer is making is not that we can all get along, but that one of the most solid tools and talents of all writerdom is the alignment of opposite characters.
In this alignment the reader is sucked along. In the opposition is created the tension which does not allow the reader to escape.
This talent probably reached an all time high in the student/mentor relationships in the works of Robert Heinlein, and is probably best observed there, but Doc Parker is a close second.
The joy of being part of the comraderie of pals, seeing how they really work, feeling their love, suspends reality effectively and enraptures the reader.
So the Doc is gone, and we will miss him, but look around, find another writer who has this talent, or, if you are a writer yourself, develop it. It is worthwhile and rich to the readers.