Surprise #1: Donald E Westlake’s Parker novels ( which he wrote under the pseudonym Richard Stark) are back in print. You would know about the first novel, The Hunter as the basis for the Mel Gibson movie Payback. One amazing book that is – sharp, precise, and filled with wonderful crime writing that I hadn’t seen read since my first Elmore Leonard. I saw the reissued versions in Walden, Penguin publications, 295 Rs each. There are about 25 Parker novels, out of which I’ve read only two ( the one mentioned above and Slayground, which I found in Best Book stall just after I passed out of college) – I will pick up the ones I see as soon as I get myself some warmer pockets.

The Richard Stark/Stephen King connection: King took the first part of his pseudonym – the ‘Richard’ – from Westlake’s nom de plume. Later, when he wrote about the outing of Bachman in The Dark Half, he made the writer-protagonist Thad Beumont’s pseudonym ‘George Stark’. Parker became the antihero Alexis Machine in George Stark’s novels. ( incidentally, the fictional excerpts from George Stark’s novels-within-the-novel, that served as chapter headings in The Dark Half made me want to read the Parker novels in the first place. ) ( Which also reminds me, King’s latest, Duma Key is also out. I would have been interested once upon a time. Not now. )

Surprise #2: I saw a colour Asterix and Obelix piece on sale for the first time. A friend of mine was approached by a French collector who had this among his Uderzo pieces. The quoted price was 80000 euroes. *Sigh*

While reading Absolute New Frontier and falling in love with Darwyn Cooke’s art all over again, I also read this graphic novel called 5 Is The Perfect Number. It was originally in Italian, written and drawn by a cartoonist named Igort, this being the only work by him that has been translated into English. He’s also editor for the Ignatz series of books brought out by Fantagraphics publications – a line of graphic novels by the likes of David B, Gilbert Hernandez and Richard Sala, just to name a few. Igort has also done some manga titles ( notably for Kodansha publishing, one of the biggest manga houses in Japan), and the manga influence leaps at you in 5. It’s the most cinematic book I’ve read in a long time, and I mean this as a compliment. The pacing of the story, the storyline itself, the characters and their dialogues, Igort gets the big picture perfectly, and also manages to make the small moments work. His duo-tone artwork comes off as very abstract at times, but using shades of blue and black in a noir book works, and how. I am not going to say anything about the story here, read it if and when you can. It just makes me wonder how many untranslated graphic novels there are, mostly in the Spanish-Italian-French belt, just waiting to be discovered. ( Umm, yeah, I know, quite a bit of English stuff I haven’t read yet…)

The No Smoking DVD is out. Much happiness!

I am a Walter Moers fan!! The Thirteen and A Half Lives of Captain Bluebear is a riot! The book deserves a post in itself, and I will write about it later, when I have some more time. I am on the lookout for more Moers books, notably Rumo and His Miraculous Adventures. It was available in Blossom a couple of months ago, at full price, which is why I didn’t buy it then. But now, let’s see the next time I’m in Bangalore…


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