And—while I've got you here—let me wish you all the joys of the season, and everything good in the coming year.
First of all, as with most Block, the damned things are fun to read. He shares his stories of writerly failure and success with his usual wit, style (the best sentences in the business as I always say) and genuine wisdom. And he teaches you stuff. Useful, practical, serious stuff. I keep the two books on the shelf right of my desk. I pick them up all the time if only to make myself feel that maybe the piece I'm working on will not, after all, end my career. Larry makes you feel good about being a writer.
You will not find any rules as such, nor suggested gimmicks or formulas, and certainly no from on-high observations about Art vs. Commerce. (I once reading a writing good book that discussed symbolism and sub text without spending much time at all on telling a story.)
For me Larry is the last of the giants, Donald Westlake and Evan Hunter having passed. Who better, with such a long and varied and amazing career behind him, to share the wealth of his knowledge about writing (and hell, life) than Lawrence Block?
This is must-have material, folks. No kidding.