Wednesday, July 11, 2012

After Hours: Conversations with Lawrence Block - Lawrence Block and Ernie Bulow

Lawrence Block had a sale on this book through his eBay store a while back, so I picked up a copy. I'd read AFTERTHOUGHTS, the collection of his afterwords from the e-book editions of many of his novels, which serves as a literary autobiography of sorts, and to a lesser extent, a personal autobiography as well. It's a fascinating collection. I thought it might be interesting to contrast it with this book, which for the most part is made up of a series of long interviews with Block conducted by Ernie Bulow more than 15 years ago. I wanted to see what had changed since then.

The answer is: some, but not a lot. (Which, I suppose, probably would be the same answer for most of us if we were in the same situation.) Many of the stories are the same. The difference is that Block is more forthcoming about certain things now, more willing to name names (although not all the time, which is probably admirable) and flesh out the stories with more details. There's a great bit in which he says: "Memoirs are interesting things. They should be written when you're still young enough to remember but old enough not to give a fuck. I'm still the first but not quite the second." I think by now he still gives a fuck, but not as much of one. (By the way, he said parenthetically, I'm starting to understand that sentiment myself.) These days, Block is much more likely to talk about the books he wrote under various pseudonyms and has even allowed a number of them to be reprinted, with more on the way. This is a very welcome thing, as a lot of those books are pretty darned good, and I enjoy reading them and enjoy reading his comments about the circumstances under which they were written.

AFTER HOURS also includes a reprint of Block's first published story, "You Can't Lose", as well as several short essays. I found it very entertaining. I always think it's fascinating when writers talk about what they've written, how they go about it, and how it connects to their personal life. Lawrence Block does this just about as well as anybody out there. AFTER HOURS is like sitting down to shoot the breeze with him for a few hours, and it gets a high recommendation from me.

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