Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Postscript to the Invisible Library — Parker druthers

One of the longer titles in the Invisible Library is Mattie Ross's unpublished MS, “You will now listen to the sentence of the law, Odus Wharton, which is that you be hanged by the neck until you are dead, dead dead! May God, whose laws you have broken and before whose dread tribunal you must appear, have mercy upon your soul. Being a personal recollection of Isaac C. Parker, the famous Border Judge."

Readers of Charles Portis's True Grit get a glimpse of Parker; now, Bookgasm reports, Loren D. Estleman has written a book about the (real-life) "hanging judge" of Arkansas:

Parker believed that executions should be public — not to provide entertainment, but to teach a moral lesson. Murderers and rapists should receive in a public display the wages of their sins. With hangman George Maledon as the man with the rope, and deputies of the caliber of “The Three Guardsmen” — Bill Tilghman, Chris Madsen and Heck Thomas —the Hanging Judge was ready to get to work....

Work for Parker was made up of holding court six days a week, for up to 10 hours a day. In 21 years as the judge presiding over the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas, Parker sentenced 156 men and four women to death by hanging. Only 79 eventually dangled from one of the six nooses — “Parker’s Tears” — for which Maledon cared.

(From Elijah)

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Speaking of Parkers: Darwyn Cooke is promoting his graphic novel adaptation of the first of Richard Stark's Parker novels, The Hunter, by giving away copies of the book to the best five reader illustrations. Here's my favorite so far, by George Pfromm II:

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