I am done with prolific novelist Robert B. Parker. No longer will I waste my time with another one of his putrid Spenser novels. As a publisher and admirer of literary fiction, I vow to retire from the abhorrent habit and guilty pleasure of intermittently reading a Robert B. Parker book in the summertime. He alone likely has brought down many an independent press’s empire by filling the publisher’s head with trite, poorly conceived story lines made up of glib generalizations and superficial remarks. He’s the reading equivalent of turning on the tube late at night and being swept up by the sickening charm, swagger and iconic mustache of Tom Selleck in the 1980s Magnum, P.I., series.
This small, lazy, undisciplined mind of mine nearly has been wracked and ruined by Robert B. Parker and I no longer will stand for it. No longer do I care what happens to Hawk, Spenser’s pal and protector, or Susan, Spenser’s longtime love interest. The characters surrounding the Boston P.I. are so blissfully shallow that they drown in their own stereotypes. Their exploits are cotton candy of the most formulaic, nauseating kind. Each summer I fall prey to picking a new Spenser novel and receive some twisted satisfaction from curling up with it on Long Beach Island, N.J., knowing what to expect: short chapters, little exposition, dripping sarcasm, clipped dialog. Parker’s paltry prose is the perfect antidote for a hungover state, saltwater taffy for an attention-deficient, whiskey-addled brain.
I should have listened to my brother, a retired police officer, when I handed him a Spenser novel several years ago. He gave it a good once-over as you do a flea-riddled poodle, and asked me, defensively, why I thought he couldn’t read something at a higher reading level than a third grader.
So I declare and conclude with all certainty that I am done with Robert B. Parker. He no longer will color black my genre-bending intellect and distort my (ahem) fine, eclectic tastes in literature with his banal repartee and Big Gulp Spenser smoothness. And with Jimmy Buffett as my witness, I shall proclaim that I am well past the days of wasting away again in “Margaritaville” and waking up the next morning on my front porch swing to down another shot of Spenser just because he goes down easier than even the finest tequila known to mankind. Not even the phenomenal feats of the most interesting man in the world who drinks Dos Equis beer will make me thirst for another round of Spenser.
Now as for Kinky Friedman and Elmore Leonard …