2010: The year in Westlake

Note: New content will be light to non-existent for the next week or two, as I travel to celebrate a belated Christmas and an on-time New Year with my family back home.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this (very) hurriedly-written summary of 2010.

I hope that your holidays have been and will […]

News for week ending 2010-12-25

Book Glutton on The Handle, Pieter Bruegel, and Cockaigne: http://bookglutton.blogspot.com/2010/12/bruegel-and-stark-and-frayn-and.html # Pulp Curry–Parker and the art of hard-boiled crime writing: http://bit.ly/igoiz3 # Randy Johnson (not that one) looks at Hellcats and Honeygirls. There are 75 of these bad boys left, so don't snooze. http://bit.ly/fnFDe5 # Ethan Iverson on Westlake and Anthony Powell: http://dothemath.typepad.com/dtm/2010/12/westlake-and-powell.html […]

Nackles: A Christmas story by Donald Westlake

Note: I believe this story to be in the public domain. If it is not, please let me know and I will remove it from the site.

Merry Christmas!


By Donald Westlake (writing as Curt Clark)

Originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, January 1964

Did God create men, or does Man create gods? I don’t know, and if it hadn’t been for my rotten brother-in-law, the question would never have come up. My late brother-in-law? Nackles knows.

It all depends, you see, like the chicken and the egg, on which came first. Did God exist before Man first thought of Him, or didn’t He? If not, if Man creates his gods, then it follows that Man must create the devils, too.

Nearly every god, you know, has his corresponding devil. Good and Evil. The polytheistic ancients, prolific in the creation (?) of gods and goddesses, always worked up nearly enough Evil ones to cancel out the Good, but not quite. The Greeks, those incredible supermen, combined Good and Evil in each of their gods. In Zoroaster, Ahura Mazda, being Good, is ranged forever against the Evil one, Ahriman. And we ourselves know God and Satan.

But of course it’s entirely possible I have nothing to worry about. It all depends on whether Santa is or is not a god. He certainly seems like a god. Consider: He is omniscient; he knows every action of every child, for good or evil. At least on Christmas Eve he is omnipresent, everywhere at once. He administers justice tempered with mercy. He is superhuman, or at least non-human, though conceived of as having a human shape. He is aided by a corps of assistants who do not have completely human shapes. He rewards Good and punishes Evil, And, most important, he is believed in utterly be several million people, most of them under the age of ten. Is there any qualification of godhood that Santa Claus does not possess?

Continue reading Nackles: A Christmas story by Donald Westlake

News for week ending 2010-12-18

100 Greatest Posters of Film Noir, 80-71: http://bit.ly/fVUIaR # Who we lost in 2010: http://therapsheet.blogspot.com/2010/12/and-then-they-were-gone.html # Gail O'Connor at Disorganized, as usual reviews Comeback: http://disorganizedasusual.blogspot.com/2010/12/comeback-by-richard-stark.html #

Guest slot: The Da Vinci Code in the style of Richard Stark

I’m very pleased to present this piece by Ethan Iverson of The Bad Plus. It was written a few years back, then vanished down the memory hole for awhile. Ethan has kindly given me permission to reprint it.

Ethan is a huge Donald Westlake fan and became friends with Westlake as a result. […]

Off topic: Dark Rising: The Savage Tales of Summer Vale

I rarely go off topic here, but this is much too cool for me not to mention.

My brother’s band, squint, has been toiling away for years and are finally experiencing some well-deserved success. They recently released their third album, Goodnight, Bad Intentions, to universal raves. The future looks bright for them.

In […]

Review: The Sins of the Fathers by Lawrence Block


The victim was a savagely butchered young Greenwich Village hooker. The accused killer was the homosexual youth who was her roommate. When the suspect hanged himself in his cell everybody was happy.

…except Matt Scudder. Scudder was being paid to find out the truth about […]

News for week ending 2010-12-11

The Rap Sheet–News on Hard Case Crime's upcoming hardcovers: http://therapsheet.blogspot.com/2010/12/hard-cases-hardcover-helpings.html # Edward Copeland–A person who don't look out for himself is too dumb to look out for anyone else (on The Grifters film) http://bit.ly/gQ4TP8 # Where Danger Lives–100 Greatest Posters of Film Noir, 90-81 http://bit.ly/fqTSyF # The Windows, a short story by Andrew […]

Hellcats and Honeygirls finally shipping

Hellcats and Honeygirls, an omnibus of three early sleaze novels by Lawrence Block and Donald Westlake, is finally shipping (about five weeks late). I got my copy today and it’s beautiful. In the flesh, the dustjacket looks even more gorgeous than the above image.

The novels included are:

A Girl Called Honey (first […]

Thoughts on Comeback posted

I have finally done a proper writeup of Comeback at the Comeback page. This is one I’m keenly interested in others’ thoughts on, so please comment if you’re so inclined.