First Book

Donald Westlake was nothing if not thorough. In fact, there’s a very strong case to be made that he was a bit OCD, if not for the countervailing case to be made out of the disorder of his filing system. Suffice it to say, the things he cared about received detailed attention and the things he didn’t care for… um… what were we talking about?

Among the things he cared about was keeping a record of his publishing exploits, in detail. Don always maintained a library of his own work, segregated from the rest of his rather immense collection of books by other authors. When the last of the kids moved out of his home in New York City, he converted one of the empty rooms into his personal library of all things Westlake. This part may be fairly typical of most authors with a significant body of work. What makes Don’s library special, and oh, so useful for our purposes, is that he kept a chronological record of every first copy of every book, and every edition, ever published and sent to him by the publisher.

Covering most of five shelves across three ten-foot walls is a physical, and chronological, record of everything Don has ever put in print, or at least every edition that the publisher sent to him. It’s possible that some publishers lapsed on that detail from time to time but unlikely to be a regular occurrence. I have made it my long-term mission to chronicle each and every one of these books and editions for posterity, and the eventual definitive Westlake bibliography, which nobody has quite nailed down yet.

To whet your appetite, here are some scans from the first copy of the first book Don ever received from a publisher, All My Lovers under the pseudonym Alan Marshall and published by Midwood’s Tower Publications. Enjoy…


2 thoughts on “First Book

  1. Hi- Great job on the blog and thanks for the info. As a fan of your Dad’s writing I decided to finally go backwards into the sleaze writings to study them in the context of Westlake’s later stuff. I’m interested in determining if it is simply throwaway stuff or if it has any literary merit or foreshadowing of what was to come and to also place it in the context of its times versus current approaches to gender theory.
    I’m sure you know there are some pages out there listing 90% of what Alan Marshall wrote as being attributed to Westlake while others are more conservative. The guy Trent claims to have the most complete biography on the web but yours includes many Marshall books he doesn’t. Thus, to the extent you can fill out the Alan Marshall part of the bibliography I would look forward to it as part of my research into this part of his work. Thanks,

    1. Everything in the bibliography on this site is confirmed as a Westlake book by its existence on the shelves of Don’s personal library in NYC. I’m currently wading through a filing system that may be more complete than the library but I haven’t encountered anything that would add to the list of “euphemism” stories at this point. I prefer the term “euphemism,” as Don did, for two reasons. One, it’s more accurate, since the descriptions of sex and body parts were entirely oblique. Two, it doesn’t really rise to the level of “sleaze” as we understand the term in modern culture. I’ll post a note here if anything comes up.

      Thanks for the note.

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