RARA-AVIS: The "Real" Lawrence Block

From: Kevin Burton Smith ( kvnsmith@thrillingdetective.com)
Date: 28 Dec 2007

Jim wrote, in reply to Jacques:

> Fiction, by its very nature, puts the writer at a
> remove from the reader. But Block's comments about
> the craft of fiction are as close to an inside look
> into Block's personality as you're likely to get.
> And, if you're a writer, or aspire to be one, they're
> among the best "how-to" books out there.

Yep. Useful, pragmatic and, thanks to his prose style, definitely among the most fun to read.

As for getting to "know" the real Block, Jim's dead on. Block's actually one of the most giving of writers, in terms of making himself available -- to fans, fellow writers and the mystery community in general. He writes a great newsletter, has written extensively about writing and crime fiction, and generally is open to anyone who asks.

He attends conferences, signings and conventions (and supermarket openings, probably). I've run into him a few times, and was fortunate enough to interview him a few years ago for JANUARY MAGAZINE. He's invariably easy going and engaging, and direct -- both on and off the record. The joke I've heard in mystery circles is that the rarest collectible of all is the Lawrence Block book that's unsigned by the author.

My guess is that the "real" real Block is a mixture of Bernie affability and Scudder wariness, with a little of the whimsicality of Keller tossed into the mix. And he's pretty much New York down to the bone.

Kevin Burton Smith Thrilling Detective Web Site Holiday 2007 Issue New fiction from Stodghill, Narvaez, Sundeson and Collins. Plus the 2007 Thrillies.

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