Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Lawrence Block's Masterful, Elegant The Crime of Our Lives

Ed here:  It has been ordained by the Mystery Gods that I begin each comment on Lawrence Block by noting that he writes the best sentences in the business. He does and I don't say that frivolously. There is an unpretentious elegance in just about everything he writes. Words never had a better friend.

If you read the following you won't need any sales pitch from me. This is one of the most incisive and fascinating collections about living it out as a full time professional writer I've ever read. I read it in three eager sessions and came away enlightened, amused and wanting more.  This is a legacy collection for Larry. Perfecto, dude, perfecto.

Here are a few samples plus the table of contents. 

An MWA Grand Master tells it straight: 

Fredric Brown: “When I read Murder Can Be Fun, I had a bottle of 
bourbon on the table and every time Brown’s hero took a drink, I had a snort myself. This is a hazardous undertaking when in the company of Brown’s characters, and, I’ve been given to understand, would have been just as dangerous around the author himself. By the time the book was finished, so was I.” 

Raymond Chandler: “You have to wonder how he got it so right. 
He spent a lot of time in the house—working, reading, writing letters. He saw to his wife, who required a lot of attention in her later years. And when he did get out, you wouldn’t find him walking the mean streets. La Jolla, it must be noted, was never much for mean streets.” 

Evan Hunter: “In his mid-seventies, after a couple of heart attacks, an aneurysm, and a siege of cancer that had led to the removal of his larynx, Evan wrote Alice in Jeopardy. And went to work right away on Becca in Jeopardy, with every intention of working his way through the alphabet. Don’t you love it? Here’s a man with one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel, and he’s perfectly comfortable launching a twenty-six book series.” 

Donald E. Westlake’s Memory: “Here’s the point: Don’s manuscript 
arrived, and we had dinner and put the kid to bed, and I started 
reading. And my wife went to bed, and I stayed up reading, and after a while I forgot I was having a heart attack, and just kept reading until I finished the book around dawn. And somewhere along the way I became aware that my friend Don, who’d written a couple of mysteries and some science fiction and his fair share of soft-core erotica, had just produced a great novel.” 

Charles Willeford: “Can a self-diagnosed sociopath be at the same 
time an intensely moral person? Can one be a sociopath, virtually unaware of socially prescribed morality, and yet be consumed with the desire to do the right thing? That strikes me as a spot-on description of just about every character Willeford ever wrote. How could he come up with characters like that? My God, how could he help it?” 

An MWA Grand Master and a multiple winner of the Edgar, Shamus, and Maltese Falcon awards, Lawrence Block’s reflections and observations come from over a half century as a writer of bestselling crime fiction. . Several of his novels have been filmed, most recently A Walk Among the Tombstones, starring Liam Neeson. While he’s best known for his novels and short fiction, along with his books on the craft of writing, that's not all he’s written. THE CRIME OF OUR LIVES collects his observations and personal reminiscences of the crime fiction field and some of its leading practitioners. He has a lot to say, and he says it here in convincing and entertaining fashion. 

Table of Contents

Table of Contents BEFORE WE BEGIN . . . MY LIFE IN CRIME Anthony Boucher (1911-68) Fredric Brown (1906-72) James M. Cain (1892-1977) Raymond Chandler (1888-1959) Stanley Ellin (1916-86) Erie Stanley Gardner (1889-1970) Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961) Chester Himes (1909-84) John D. MacDonald (1916-1986) Ross Macdonald (1915-83) Ellery Queen (Frederic Dannay, 1905- 82, and Manfred B. Lee, 1905-71) Jack Ritchie (1922-83) Rex Stout (1886-1975) Jim Thompson (1906-76) Charles Willeford (1919-88) Cornell Woolrich (1903-68)



Evan Hunter Was My Hero
ROBERT B. PARKER “They Like the Way It Sounds”
EDGAR ALLAN POE “It All Started With Poe” The Curse of Amontillado
The Edgar and I
ROSS THOMAS Remembering Ross Thomas
DONALD E. WESTLAKE Remembering Memory Butcher’s Moon Comeback Backflash

The Crime of Our Lives Lawrence Block Copyright © 2015, Lawrence Block All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means, or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the express written permission of the author. Ebook Production: QAProductions ALawrence Block Production F

1 comment:

Mathew Paust said...

Thanks for this, Ed. I haven't read Block in years. The last title I remember was the craft book Telling Lies for Fun and Profit. Inspired the daylights out of me. I shall download Crime of Our Lives right now, if it's on Kindle.