THRILLVILLE: Will "the Thrill" Viharo's weird, wild world of Pulp Fiction, B Movies, & the Lounge Lizard Lifestyle.

Friday, January 29, 2010

In Praise & Memory of J.D. Salinger and Robert Parker

J. D. Salinger January 1, 1919 – January 27, 2010
Robert B. Parker September 17, 1932 – January 18, 2010

Before I morphed into my "Will the Thrill" persona, I was "William Viharo, Novelist" - or at least I aspired to be. I wrote about 16 fiction manuscripts before I pretty much gave up, and Thrillville became my main creative enterprise (though I continue to write and publish various freelance articles and columns on retro pop culture, as I've done for over twenty years now.) I bring this up because recently two of my favorite writers passed away within days of each other, J.D. Salinger and Robert B. Parker. Both had an enormous influence on me as a writer and, via their immortal characters, as a person. The Catcher in the Rye is still my favorite novel, and Robert Parker's Spenser series was always a reliable source of witty entertainment and exceptional escapism. Parker was himself influenced by another favorite writer of mine, Raymond Chandler. Vic Valentine, the private eye protagonist of my one published novel, Love Stories Are Too Violent For Me was sort of a cross between Salinger's Holden Caulfield and Chandler's Philip Marlowe. I loved Parker's completion of the unfinished Chandler manuscript Poodle Springs, as well as his "sequel" to Chandler's The Big Sleep, entitled Perchance to Dream. I met Parker at a book signing once. He told the audience who his three favorite writers were - can't recall, but Chandler was one of them - so after the reading, when I brought him a book to autograph, I said to him, "I hope to be your fourth favorite writer some day." So he wrote in the book (1991's Pastime), "To my 4th favorite writer." I treasure it now more than ever, even though it's a joke.

Truth be told, once I stopped writing fiction, over a dozen years ago, I stopped reading it, by and large. The passing of these iconic literary figures who had such a personal and professional impact on me has caused me to mourn not only them, but my former aspirations. Who knows, maybe "William Viharo, Novelist" will be reborn someday. I'm not holding my breath, since so few people actually read fiction these days, and I need to concentrate on making a living. We'll see. If Christian Slater, who has optioned Love Stories several times, actually gets around to making it a movie at some point, perhaps I'll feel reinvigorated. Again, I'm not holding my breath till this happens, but it's a wild card floating around out there that may turn up and change the game for me. Life is full of surprises.

I don't have anything else to say about Salinger or Parker other than what has already been extensively written, as they were well established legends by the time of their passing. They both led long, fruitful lives, so I can't say I'm sad, just pensive and reflective on the natures of both human mortality and artistic immortality. This isn't an academic tribute. I'm just not feeling that right now. I'm simply giving them a public shout out on my little blog, as many bloggers are doing. Anyone can self publish these days. I'm just another voice in the anonymous chorus.