Adios Scheherazade is Donald E. Westlake’s 14th novel, published in 1970, and is a significant departure from what he is best known for — the crime caper, especially the comic crime caper.

The protagonist, Ed Topliss has been making easy money writing cheap soft porn — one a month, 5000 words, ten chapters, one sex scene each chapter, following one of four plot skeletons, just changing names and locations. The friend who got him the gig warned him that he would not be able to do it forever, and that reality finally catches up with him. Ed gets writer’s block. He has to make the deadline, he was already late with the last one — what is he going to do?

Trying to get the first chapter of his next book written, Ed begins documenting each new, increasingly bizarre setback as his life comes apart. Every chapter is chapter 1, because Ed cannot figure out how to change what’s happening and has to continually start again.

Westlake is noted for his excellent pacing. In Adios, Scheherazade he does not disappoint. With simple language artfully arranged, Westlake conveys the panic of a writer losing his grip.

There is likely much in Adios Scheherazade that is autobiographical.

(Book cover courtesy of Amazon)

Advertisements