06 June 2007

Back to Block

Just finished The Girl with the Long Green Heart by Lawrence Block. Although first published over 40 years ago, Hard Case Crime has re-issued it (#14, Nov '05) in their excellent line of noir novels. If you aren't tuned in to HCC, you are missing out. Mr. Block is a master of the noir story, this tale of grifters and their "long con" is compelling from start to finish and even gives you a nice surprise at the end. The femme fatale is more complete and believable than many of the sirens that grace the pages of these kinds of books. It is sometimes hard to swallow that writers like Block work in relative obscurity while lesser artists sell mountains of mediocre mysteries. I know life is not fair, but I've read too many lousy best-sellers, especially in the "mystery" genre. What impresses me about this particular Block book is its freshness. The story is dated in the sense that they use typewriters and telegrams instead of computers and email, but the idea of a con, a rip-off, a scheme to defraud someone is ageless. The motives of the characters are real--greed, the thrill of the hunt, revenge--and are the same things that motivate today's high-tech hustlers. Good writing has staying power, and Mr. Block is a good writer.
On a personal note, I got to see my friend Stuart Ziff play guitar on TV last night. Mr. Z is the guitarist for WAR, and they played the ALMA Awards which aired on ABC. The special award to George Lopez was backed by "Why Can't We Be Friends?" and "Low Rider" from WAR, both big hits from my high school days. I hate awards shows, but I stayed up past my bedtime for this one! Stuart's wife, Betty Rosen Ziff, is also an artist, and an old pal. Check out her site on my links list. It is easy to forget that most writers, artists, musicians and etc., plug away making a living just like cops and teachers and truck drivers. A tiny tiny tiny percentage of these guys make millions, the rest just make it. Remember to support your small-timers! On the same note, the interesting (but bizarre) Harpers's Index reports that 1.446 million different books were sold in the US last year, and 1.123 million of them sold less than 99 copies. Subtracting 1,123,000 from 1,446,000 yields 323,000 books that sold 100 copies or more. Gives one pause when thinking about writing for a living, eh? Finally, The Reel Fanatic, another blogger, chimed in on TPP yesterday. Thanks, Reel. Always nice to know a post gets read now and then.
a.d. VIII Id.Iun.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice to read the rave about Lawrence Block, one of my all-time favorites. His characters stand up to anyone, I reckon, and opening the cover of one of his books, seeing that first page, brings on that wonderul feeling of anticipation that you get when you know you are going for a great reading ride. NOC