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The Score (Parker, #5)
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The Score > The Score by Richard Stark

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Patrick McLean (patrickemclean) | 11 comments Mod
Post what you think of the novel as your read it. We'll use this to fuel the google hangout discussion in March


message 2: by Tobias (last edited Feb 09, 2014 06:14PM) (new)

Tobias Queen (tobiasqueen) | 3 comments If, like me, you find it's hard to find the time to just sit down and enjoy a book these days, there is an unabridged audio book version lurking out there.
http://www.audible.com/pd/Mysteries-T...

Just picked it up.

Guess we'll see if the experience is the same?


message 3: by Dan (new)

Dan Absalonson (dandantheartman) | 1 comments That's how I do most of my reading. I have 2 hours of commuting on workdays, but it's my reading time. I love audiobooks. And eBooks and paper books :)


message 4: by Brand (new)

Brand Gamblin (brandg) | 6 comments Ditto. I'm synching the audio book with Kindle version, and using the notes feature to keep track of interesting points. I'll put those in here once I get a chance.


Asselberghs | 3 comments I´m about 25% in I think, on my kindle. Reminds me a bit of Leverage. Interesting story so far, It´s a bit hard to visualize and having the cast being destinct. I´m not even sure how Parker looks other than he´s large and I guess a bit rough. Reading on my Kindle 2 hours a day roughly to and from work. I think that would mean I have it finished in time for our hangout. I expect a turn situation can´t recall the term for it but as far as I know it´s quite common to Caper stories.


Patrick McLean (patrickemclean) | 11 comments Mod
Asselberghs wrote: "I´m about 25% in I think, on my kindle. Reminds me a bit of Leverage. Interesting story so far, It´s a bit hard to visualize and having the cast being destinct. I´m not even sure how Parker looks o..."

It's not so much visually distinct (I personally don't care about description much -- so much so that it is a fault in my writing) as psychologically distinct. Which is more interesting and more difficult, I think.

In this vein there is a bit in this book that is one of my favorite bits of writing ever. See if you spot it.


message 7: by Brand (new)

Brand Gamblin (brandg) | 6 comments Honestly, that's one of the things that I like in this book (and I try to do it in my own writing). You only describe those things that stand out as defining the character. I don't need to know Parker's skin or hair color nearly as much as I do the fact that he had plastic surgery done, or that he is a huge, hulking character. Those details are crucial to how he thinks and acts, and that's a big deal.


Patrick McLean (patrickemclean) | 11 comments Mod
You only describe those things that stand out as defining the character."

The writing is sooo efficient. That's reason Westlake picked the pen name "Stark" it's descriptive of the style he was aiming for.


message 9: by Michael (new) - added it

Michael Babb | 2 comments ~ 1/2 way through the book as of last night. It is a quick read.

I think he hit on the "Starkness" perfectly. I like that it is not flowery or wordy, just focuses on the basics of the story.

Looking forward to the rest now that some folks are hunkered down at the ole' mine.


message 10: by Asselberghs (last edited Feb 13, 2014 12:19AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Asselberghs | 3 comments And that was that, done with the score. I really liked it, I´m tempted to read more parker novels at some point but for now I think I´ll stick with finishing what I put on hold and the next novel we find we need to read here.
I was at first a bit afraid of the language maybe seeming old but it diden´t at all, and okay as I am used to reading Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe that seems like a silly thing to think now.


message 11: by Brand (new)

Brand Gamblin (brandg) | 6 comments After I finished "The Score" I got the idea in my head to check out films based on Parker. Verdict: Mel is great, Statham is crap.


Patrick McLean (patrickemclean) | 11 comments Mod
Brand wrote: "After I finished "The Score" I got the idea in my head to check out films based on Parker. Verdict: Mel is great, Statham is crap."

Mel is okay. They softened him. But they captured more of the essence of the thing for sure.

In the book that they based 'Parker" on Parker gets really torn up. When he decides to stay and get revenge it really reads like "This guy is nuts. He is going to die."


Patrick McLean (patrickemclean) | 11 comments Mod
Asselberghs wrote: "And that was that, done with the score. I really liked it, I´m tempted to read more parker novels at some point but for now I think I´ll stick with finishing what I put on hold and the next novel w..."

The writing is really fresh and clean, right? The stuff that is different is pay phones. It gets tougher to build suspense and drama when the reader says, "Why all this rushing about? Why not just call her on the cellphone?"


message 14: by Michael (new) - added it

Michael Babb | 2 comments Patrick wrote: ...It gets tougher to build suspense and drama when the reader says, "Why all this rushing about? Why not just call her on the cellphone?"

I like reading older Sci-Fi, and that is one of the things that I enjoy about it. I love seeing what they got right and what they got wrong. Very interesting reading the story with a more modern eye. I got caught a few times thinking 'Why not just...oh yeah, different time.'


message 15: by Brand (new)

Brand Gamblin (brandg) | 6 comments "In the book that they based 'Parker" on Parker gets really torn up." - Now I need to find that book. Payback's one of the more brutal films I've seen.


message 16: by CJ (new) - rated it 5 stars

CJ (cjwellman) | 1 comments So excited to start this book. I was trying to finish a Ray Bradbury book and just did so now it's on to this one. The comments here have already got me amped to start it!


message 17: by Feliks (last edited Feb 17, 2014 12:28PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) Other films based on Donald E. Westlake books:

'The Hot Rock' (Redford, Segal)
'The Bank Job' (George C. Scott)
'The Outfit' (Robert Duvall, Joe Don Baker, Sheree North)


message 18: by Tobias (last edited Feb 18, 2014 07:58AM) (new)

Tobias Queen (tobiasqueen) | 3 comments Verdict: Good Book!

Told the story with the minimum amount of information necessary. Went on for a bit longer than I expected, but I liked where it left off.

As for Parker, he comes off as a bad ass, and well, lets be honest he IS a bad ass, but he'a also a thinking man, we don't really get to hear his internal dialogue, but his actions SHOW he is a thinking man whose a few steps ahead of most of his fellow con men, thieves, and ne'er do wells.

I do believe I'll be listening to/reading a few more parker novels.


Glenn Murphy | 2 comments Just finished. Good choice, Patrick. I look forward to discussing the book.

My initial thoughts:

This was a tight story, told with the minimum of primping and fuss. For the most part, the sparse style worked well for the subject matter and lead protaganist.

I was also struck by how well this book has aged. Given the changes wrought by cell phones, security cameras and other modern technology, you might expect this period crime caper to seem hopelessly dated, even naive, to the modern reader. Instead, I found it charming and thought-provoking. It made me want to plan a heist of my own - surely a desired outcome for a book of this genre.

That said, in places, the sparse language became an almost infantile charicature of itself i.e. "They all sat at the table. Grofield and Edgars and Littlefield and Wicksa and Salsa and Pop Phillips." (I'm paraphrasing, but you get the idea). I find these devices distracting when used to excess. They serve to highlight the writer's self-conscious presence in the telling - which to my mind is never a good thing in fiction. See also Cormac McCarthy. (Cue boos and hisses from offended fans of The Road...)

For the most part, the narrative was well paced - building steadily from the initial meeting, through the planning and execution stages of the heist. But with so much attention to detail on the ins and outs of buying guns and setting up communication lines, I found the payoff rather anticlimactic. Key, plot-resovling action scenes (the fate of Edgars, the stand-off with Paulus) seemed rushed, and/or poorly illustrated. I had difficulty picturing the scene, and by the time I began to care about it, it was all over. More balanced attention to detail, here, would have improved things, I think. Since this is the first Westlake/Stark novel I have read, I don't know if this is a common element of his work, or whether it changes in his later work. Would be interested to find out.

In any case, I will definitely be checking out another Parker title.

And possily re-watching Payback.


message 20: by Feliks (last edited Feb 19, 2014 01:35PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) Solidly written, taut, straightforward crime stories (heists, prison breaks, holdups, etc) never age, in my opinion. If anyone wants to see cell phones or computers in a story I suggest that they are unfit as readers; and authors should not pander to their sensibility.


Patrick McLean (patrickemclean) | 11 comments Mod
The thing that really draws me in with these is the feeling. What's the word in Japanese, 'aji'? The lingering taste of it. These books are a complete universe and morality play all in one.

I agree with you about The Road. In places the sparse style falls apart. But in places, it's just gorgeous. What I try to do is aim for sparse and let the needs of the story pull me into something more intricated (that hopefully doesn't suck.)

It doesn't always work out ;-)


Glenn Murphy | 2 comments On balance, "sparse, with occasional flowerings" works a great deal better than the reverse, "flowery, with occaisonal bursts of simple clarity" (See Salman Rushdie).

I think your novels balance this to good effect, Patrick. I aim to do the same in my own scribblings, fighting my innate, Celtic tendency to haver (damn you, Blarney Stone...)


message 23: by [deleted user] (new)

I enjoyed this - it had a sense of inevitability like a Coen brothers movie. Once all the dominoes are in place, knock the first one over and watch to see what happens.

The pacing & plot reminded me of the Sinatra Ocean's Eleven: assemble the crew / prep / the multi-heist / deal with the fallout.


Brent (dajhek) | 1 comments Mike wrote... The pacing & plot reminded me of the Sinatra Ocean's Eleven: assemble the crew / prep / the multi-heist / deal with the fallout.

I had this same feeling throughout the book, that it read like a dirty/gritty version of Ocean's Eleven. It was good, and I identify with the style of sparse writing. We never hear about the "decor of the room," unless it somehow relates to what is happening. Such a difference from other authors, such as Tolkien, where we spend half the book describing the trees and valleys the characters are walking through. This style of writing lends itself great to pacing.


message 25: by Joe (last edited Mar 08, 2014 02:32AM) (new)

Joe Fair | 1 comments I liked it. Like lots of others, it reminded me of Ocean's Eleven, but the original movie, where everybody wore shirts with collars, air conditioning was a 'thing', smoking was not a 'thing', and technology was something you could understand, anticipate, and handle.

I thought switching the point of view was a bit of a jolt during the heist, because I hadn't noticed it before. If it was told in other than Parker's view before that, it was so subtle I didn't notice.

Even with that many people, it wasn't an effort to keep up with who was who. Stark did a good job of giving each character a handle (the safe men) and mentioning it when they were re-introduced. I really liked when Littlefield (the actor) had the point of view, and talked about how he heard music wherever he went, depending on the mood.

And how Parker thought it through about keeping the girl at the end, feeling her out, deciding on the facts instead of making a decision without thinking it through. The conversation with Grofield beforehand was a brilliant description of what was on the line. The conversation with her wouldn't have made as much sense, or been as tense, without it. Also, it was a good contrast between Parker and Edgars.


Patrick McLean (patrickemclean) | 11 comments Mod
I love that soundtrack bit with Grofield so much. It's a simple thing, wouldn't break the book if you took it out, but it was really beautiful.


message 27: by Brand (last edited Mar 07, 2014 12:43PM) (new)

Brand Gamblin (brandg) | 6 comments I get the feeling that there were some characters that Stark really loved. Parker, of course, but Grofield as well.

But consider how much time we spent learning about the old blind gun dealer who was only in one "scene". That much description matches even Edgars, despite the fact that Edgars was much more important to the plot.

I think he loved the flawed characters more than the more obvious ones. Edgar's character was, in the end, very simple. His motivation and actions seem obvious. He was almost a MacGuffin, used to push the story along. So why bother explaining him? It's much more fun to talk about this blind criminal who's desperate to unload the crap weapons, but hates the idea that he'll lose business to a competitor.

"He's getting worse, you know."


Asselberghs | 3 comments Have the hangout taken place yet? I was on ski vacation from 3rd-8th of March. At the time we started this project I diden´t know I was going on a vacation I hope I Haven´t missed it. If I have I´ll just look forward to what we´re reading next and participating in that hangout.


Patrick McLean (patrickemclean) | 11 comments Mod
Nope, I'm going to pick a date in the next couple of days for the Hangout. (any suggestions anyone) Things have been a bit scattered since we're buying a house and moving. But my notes are done and I'd rather talk about a book than pack a box, so...


Patrick McLean (patrickemclean) | 11 comments Mod
@Brand -- Absolutely. Edgars is a MacGuffin. I finished my notes today and re-reading it, I realized how thin he was. It's probably the flaw of this book. Certainly it would stand a chance of being a better book if he were more fleshed out. But the character studies are so great, you just don't care. He serves his function and is gone.

The other thing is, the last second of the story -- where they've all holed up and have to escape, I'd be tempted to make the much longer. Really put Parker and the rest through hell. It's almost like they get away with it too easily.


message 31: by Brand (new)

Brand Gamblin (brandg) | 6 comments Absolutely. Outside of the Paulus incident, the ending felt like a denouement that was excessively long. I think it would have been more interesting if things hadn't gone as well with Grofield's girl. But then, I may just be turning it into a Hollywood story at that point.


Patrick McLean (patrickemclean) | 11 comments Mod
Okay, did I say discussion in March? What I really meant was April. April 17th at 9:30pm EST to be precise.

I'll give a short overview of Stark/Westlake and the book (7 minutes), then authors Brand Gamblin and Glenn Murphy and I will have a quick roundtable discussion. (7-10 minutes) then we will open it up for general discussion and mayhem.

The ides is not to exclude anybody, but to have a nice video package that can live on after this event while still having a chance to talk with everybody.

If you can't join us live. I'll post a video link here and post on patrickemclean.com

Also, we will have an announcement soon about where you can buy t-shirts.


message 33: by Tobias (new)

Tobias Queen (tobiasqueen) | 3 comments Soooo, about that link?


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