RARA-AVIS: Lawrence Block's favourite and most influential books

From: William Denton ( buff@pobox.com)
Date: 13 Feb 2002

I happened to see THE READER'S COMPANION, edited by Fred Bratman and Scott Lewis, on the shelf the other day, and when I flipped through I noticed an entry by Lawrence Block where he talks about the books that influenced him. I photocopied the page the wrong way so I lost the first words, but he starts with

        James T. Farrell, STUDS LONIGAN
        Thomas Wolfe, OF TIME AND THE RIVER
        John Steinbeck, THE GRAPES OF WRATH
        John dos Passos, U.S.A.

Then he says, "When I began to have some acceptance in the field of crime fiction, I read whole libraries of the stuff. Much of what I read had an impact. I'll list some individual titles, but I didn't really read individual books; I gulped down complete works.

        Dashiell Hammett, THE MALTESE FALCON
        Raymond Chandler, THE LONG GOODBYE
        Frederic Brown, THE FABULOUS CLIPJOINT
        Agatha Christie, THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD
        Rex Stout, BLACK ORCHIDS

"The works of one American novelist and short story writer have had a continuing influence on my writing and, I shouldn't wonder, on my world view. I've read all of his books over and over, and I wouldn't be surprised if I get rather more out of them than he put into them. I'll mention two favorites: John O'Hara, TEN NORTH FREDERICK and FROM THE TERRACE.

"I should mention a very uneven writer who, in his best work, made enormously difficult narrative tasks look effortless and natural: Somerset Maugham, CAKES AND ALE and THE MOON AND SIXPENCE.

"And a man I wish I'd had a chance to meet, who wrote relatively little and died too son: Walter Tevis, THE QUEEN'S GAMBIT and THE COLOR OF MONEY."

William Denton : Toronto, Canada : http://www.miskatonic.org/ : Caveat lector.

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