Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Donald E. Westlake: notes for a descent into Heaven

Anyone who wants to understand the last fifty years of class society in the United States as expressed by North American prose artists could do much worse than Donald E. Westlake. 

Nixon?  Try Cops and Robbers.
Reaganism?  Try Drowned Hopes.
Neoliberalism?  Try What's The Worst that Could Happen? or The Ax.

The first chapter of The Ax can be read here.  I recommend it as a good place to enter the Westlake books.  It is a spare and approachable novel driven by the same humanist aesthetic as Chaplin's Monsieur Verdoux.