The SFFaudio Podcast #658 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Scott Danielson, and Trish E. Matson talk about Dancing Aztecs by Donald E. Westlake
Talked about on today’s show:
mid-1970s, questions, longest novel, why it is so weird?, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1965), Westchester, Pennsylvania, a bold claim, a huge collection, Rat Race (2001), this quasi-genre is called “epic comedy”, The Cannonball Run (1981), Aston Martin DB5, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr., a diocese in California, a really stupid movie and really good, atypical for Westlake, a huge cast, funny as heck, ever scene is very Westlake, overall the picture is unWestlakian, 40 people and a hawk, omniscient point of view, chapter titles, the structure, he’s a master at this terrible genre, entertaining, light, Somebody Owes Me Money by Donald E. Westlake, a problem somewhere in New York, Westlake showing us New York, a member of this neighbourhood, everybody in New York is looking for something, the second day of the search, fifteen hours from South America to New York, the inferred bar fight, so good, you could put this right on film, Westlake movies, very filmic stuff, in novels characters would never do this, the master of the novel form, at the height of his writing powers, he’s using his powers for simplistic movie comedy, Cannonball Run is trash, super-cute, he’s enjoying himself, self-indulgent, Farrah Fawcett, they’re inherently bad for you, The Good Place, The Cannonball Run II (1984), Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines (1965), Those Daring Young Men in their Jaunty Jalopies (1965), Wacky Races, Dick Dastardly, a plague we’ve gotten through and over, the Harlem Globetrotters on Scooby-Doo, mid-60s into the 80s, the Scary Movie series, parody movies, a cast of famous actors in Airport, the airport sequels, Airplane!, big cast novels, The Gods Must Be Daring (1997), a wonderful assemblage, leaning on ethnic stereotypes, bigoted stereotypes, n-words and other ethnic slurs, how it was back then, we should do better now, Harlem, in the parade of truckbeds going by, a chapterlets from the point of view of the two kids watching the parade, in dialect, the Brer Rabbit stories by Joel Chandler Harris, Uncle Remus, Brer Fox he lay low, Brian Holsopple, dynamism, no restrictions, all out zany, so wide so broad, hanging out with Pedro is a book by itself, ravished, so many people end up happy, there’s only one winner, they all had fun in the race, all in the journey, the best episode of Deep Space Nine is about a crew of Vulcans and the Deep Space Nine raggamuffins, they don’t win they declare victory, go back to Quark’s and have a raktajino and enjoy they’re muscles being sore, the familiar plot, the setup, The Fugitive Pigeon, The Maltese Falcon, the Westlake Review blog, The Mourner by Richard Stark, how Westlake often does something, how he created Dortmunder, a comedic scene, derailing your hardboiled protagonists, cozy versions of Stark plots, back to Paul’s poll, side series, sidekick heisters, a criminal job at the airport, he’s a wonderful guy, only the hawk isn’t criminal, so much meta writing, as a professional writer, always looking for ideas, when he hits on an idea, how the aztecs are genuine, how many scenes where suddenly the action stops, a Sherlock Holmes story, The Adventure Of The Six Napoleons, the strange circumstances that brought about these events, a squash court for a certain park, congratulating themselves, “I believe my subject is bewilderment”, bewildered by reality, how it could possibly be, sixteen Dancing Aztecs, why are they moving like that, they have a reason, heisted from an ATV by Americans, a British coup in Antigua: Under An English Heaven, Kahawa, a coffee train heist book?, hustling, gritty, only New York, decades ago, Robert Moses, a sense of place, Westlake’s job is to go out in the city and observe and say “wow”, two travelers, places to go in New York, amazing experiences you can have, the real treasure of Westlake, a sanitation worker with a big route, the park on the weekend, the beach in the winter, a billion corners of New York, how many nooks?, various spots that need pooping on, an archaeologist looking at the mid-1970s, the father in Somebody Owes Me Money was always working on the insurance papers, gimme twenty books and only one was written by Westlake I could find it because of characterization, the bewilderment scenes, he must be a private eye, the private eye said, weird glomming on, the mom smells like a tomato, at the park with his kite (on fire), he’s got a B.B. gun, almost like magic realism, you can’t say no to it, the wry affection he holds for most the characters, gentle fun, Jane Austen, “the hero”, he likes them all, gold, how all the different statues got broken, a twist at the ending, 150 pages earlier, the wrong statue, a sleight comic novel of skill and craft, Westlake at the height of his powers, an unreliable narrator, the Westlake review writer is very expert, an FBI agent who had been fired years ago (but thought he was under very deep cover), throw a monkey wrench in, create scenes, Robert Redford is a thief, The Hot Rock (1972), Sidney Potier as an agent trying to stop him, absolutely zany, a filmic only genre translated into a book, something that is difficult to do in a book, the power of his amazing characterization, Westlake showing off, the answer is yes, pretty impressive, Bank Shot, Smoke, The Spy In The Ointment, in dialogue with other authors, Lawrence Block, past comic novels, Art Dodge’s greeting card company, Two Much (1996), Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas, the V.S. Goth Cab company, like Edgar Allan Poe the French love Donald E. Westlake, an unauthorized Stark adaptation, big in France, Drowned Hopes is Westlake’s retelling of The Colour Out Of Space by H.P. Lovecraft (kinda, not really), Smoke by Donald Westlake, The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells, audio doesn’t get archived on the Waybackmachine, ground out of the internet, forever is not as long as we though it was, Travelers Far And Wee by Donald E. Westlake, this explains all the traffic in New York, something that’s easy to miss in Westlake is that he’s very philosophical, he’s surprised he’s an author, the fake publishing agency, its a fuck book, Westlake wrote those, the market’s not there (the Science Fiction market), they all have day jobs, less and less reliant on getting that publisher, where there’s a demand to be an author there’s going to be a scam, these comic crime capers are all about himself, they’re all getting scammed, the wonder, the absolute bewilderment, its unbelievable what people ill trick themselves into doing, calmer and calmer the more they fight, he likes being a cuckold, the other Oscar, best adapted Screenplay, Jim Thompson, The Killer Inside Me, one of the joys of this podcast, re-reads, the secret of what podcasts are for: its , The Curse Of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold, everybody needs a good excuse, Larry Niven, allowable as long as it is homework, a mental block, assignments for podcasts, how many podcast has Scott got going?, two readalongs per month, all in good fun, a Luke Burrage show, Amazon and Google searches have greatly degraded, use an adblocker, adblocker browsers (Brave), the central Andes, the maximum extent of the Aztec Empire, a fictional South American country, what research did he do? his whole life, a Richard Stark novel set of the coast of Cuba, Lawrence Block’s novel Killing Castro, a very political time, he’s really good at hiding the politics, his weird personality, very different from most SF writers, Robert J. Sawyer makes his full time living as an SF writer, wife with a job, lives in a condo, no kids, hundreds seeming thousands of TV writers writing terrible shows and making very good livings, seemingly no interest in books, the history of the 20th century, the Teapot Dome Scandal, all the other people in the family that amounted to zero, billionaire, Elon Musk did something interesting with his money, putting a car in orbit of the earth is stupid but cool, Joachim Boaz writing about Larry Niven’s inheritance “at least he’s honest about it”, stuff on the moon, expanding the Dortmunder world, the recent film adaptation of The Colour Out Of Space, the HPLHS, The Voluminous Podcast: The Letters Of H.P. Lovecraft, little Auggie Derleth, C.L. Moore, the redemption we all wanted him to have, mea culpas, his political transformation, if this is what a conservative sounds like sign me up, economic philosophy, more people of the elite class need to have that feeling in order to change, he thinks he’s better than everyone else, and he’s failing at school, writing a newspaper column as a teenager but can’t finish high school, straight from the source biography, the destruction of Uncle Hugo’s bookstore, the website, H.P. Podcraft has a patreon, Houdini, more professional than premier prestige podcasts, what a triumph their podcast is.
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