Re: RARA-AVIS: Lawrence Block signings

From: Mark Sullivan (
Date: 29 Apr 2004

Richard wrote:

"Through the years Lawrence Block has signed a good many books for me and has always been most gracious. The books were generally his latest or something relatively obscure, which always seemed to interest him. I've had the same experience with Westlake, Evan Hunter, Charles McCarry and others who seem to enjoy seeing an oddity from long ago."

I had much the same experience with Westlake a few years ago. He was interviewed on stage at the Smithsonian by Michael Dirda. Afterwards, they had copies of his latest book (a recent Parker) for sale and he signed anything anyone put in front of him. His one request, which was very reasonable, was that those with several books wait at the end of the line and let those with single books go first. This was far from being a hardship since he continued to answer questions and tell stories the whole time.

I was one of a handful of people at the end. I had brought his new book, the Pocket Book Parkers I had collected, Anarchaos and Comfort Station. During the earlier interview, Westlake had been asked about his numerous pseudonyms. He told the quite amusing story about how he, as Westlake, wrote the blurb for himself on the pseudonymous Comfort Station: "I wish I had written this book." So everyone was thoroughly impressed when I handed a copy to him to sign. None of the other collectors had seen a copy, though they had looked for it. Even Westlake said it had been a long time since he had seen one. I had picked it up years before for half cover. By the way when Westlake signs pseudonymous works, he signs his real name, but puts the initials of his alias in parentheses.


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