RARA-AVIS: Block's Random Walk

From: Vince Keenan ( vpkeenan@yahoo.com)
Date: 15 Nov 2007

I wondered how long it would take for Random Walk to come up. I've read this one more than once, and I honestly don't know what to make of it. And I say this as a mammoth Lawrence Block fan.

A guy whose life isn't going anywhere in particular decides to take a walk, triggering an entire movement. He and a bunch of other like-minded individuals are just going to walk the earth. You know, like Caine in Kung Fu. At the same time, we also follow a guy who has applied the lessons of a get-rich-quick real estate seminar to serial killing. He's also wandering the country. Eventually, both storylines collide.

The killer storyline is up to Block's usual standards, dark and deftly etched, with real psychological acuity. As for the walking stuff, you got me. A New Age pall hangs heavy over the proceedings, and the ending is very ... let's say mystical. I seem to recall Block at one point intimating that he intended the book as a parody. At other times, he indicates that it's meant to be taken at face value. The edition that I have -- with a blurb from the director of
"Nomad University" and jacket copy that compares the book to Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Stranger In A Strange Land, among other titles -- seems to imply the latter.

If pressed, I'd say that I don't particularly care for the book, but that it's worth reading for Block completists. The serial killer material is strong stuff, though. Maybe it's time I took another look at it.

Glad to hear other RA members were able to check out the Ellroy picks on Turner Classic Movies. I've got them parked on the DVR.


http://www.VinceKeenan.com Pop culture, past and present, high and low. One day at a time.

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