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Hello, I must be going…

griftersgamehccOpen Road has just made Grifter’s Game part of a special promotion, dropping the price all the way down to $2.99 for a limited time. (How limited? I don’t know, but you can see for yourself at Kindle or Nook. If the ePrice is still $2.99, you’re in luck.)

I wrote an afterword especially for the eBook:

This turned out to be the first book published under my own name, although I assumed it would be pseudonymous soft porn when I started it. A couple of chapter in I decided it might be a cut above what I’d been writing, so I wrote it as a crime novel with the hope it might work for Gold Medal. They were the first house to see it, and Knox Burger bought it. I can’t recall that he asked for any changes.

But they changed the title. I’d called it The Girl on the Beach, because that was such a Charles Williams/Gil Brewer/Peter Rabe title, perfect for Gold Medal. Knox didn’t like it. Go figure. Then somebody, he or I or my agent, came up with Grifter’s Game, and that was one everybody liked.

Next thing I knew, it was published as Mona. Years later I learned from Knox that this was publisher Ralph Daigh’s idea. He’d bought a painting of a woman’s face from an illustrator, and wanted a chance to use it on something. If he’d used a portrait of himself, I might be the author of Horse’s Ass.

The book’s had various titles over the years. Someone used the phrase “sweet slow death” in a cover blurb, and Berkley made that the title of their reprint edition. When Hard Case brought out the book a couple of years ago, we finally got to call it Grifter’s Game…

There’s more, and I’ve posted the afterword in full on the Afterthoughts page. Moving right along, it’s my pleasure to tell you about the newly available adventures of a very naughty young woman:

jill2Kit Tolliver, whose totem animal is clearly the Black Widow spider, debuted in a short story, “If You Can’t Stand the Heat.” (Keller got a similar start, in “Answers to Soldier.”) The Kit Tolliver stories coalesced into a novel, Getting Off. A year ago I made the first three stories available on Kindle, and their reception showed that many of you like to consume them one at a time.

Well, now’s your chance. All twelve Kit Tolliver episodes are now available for Kindle . They’re live on Smashwords as well for Apple, Kobo, Sony Reader, and everything else. (And, after having been stalled in the B&N pipeline, they’re live on Nook. )

They’re sequentially numbered, which does make it easier to read them in order. They get more violent and erotic as they go along, and Kit’s not everybody’s dream girl, but you might want to give her a whirl…

This will be my last blog post for a while. I’ll be woodshedding—as the jazz musicians used to say, and perhaps still do. I’ll be off the grid, deprived of (or spared, as you prefer) email, Facebook, Twitter, and even such old-time agents of connectivity as snail mail and the telephone. LB’s eBay Bookstore will be closed while I’m gone. Enjoy the summer—and if you feel deprived of my presence, well, I’ve got a few books out there. And I’ve always been at my best on the page…

LB

Well, some of you can hear me now…

On June 25 I blogged about audiobooks, and five days later, coincidentally enough, The New York Times had an unrelated feature on the subject. My thanks to Norman Haase, who called my attention to this letter in the Times:

To the Editor:

Re “Actors Today Don’t Just Read for the Part. Reading IS the Part” (front page, June 30):

I am deeply grateful to those wonderful actors and engineers who get the audiobooks to me. I don’t know how I got any housework done before audiobooks.

I started years ago with tapes from the library on a Sony Walkman; now I mostly do Audible.com downloads on an iPod.

My favorite authors include Agatha Christie, P. G. Wodehouse, Jane Austen, George Eliot, Leo Tolstoy, Mark Haddon, Nick Hornby and Lawrence Block.

MARGARET STEIN
Minneapolis, June 30, 2013

Nice company! Thank you, Margaret.

And while you’re at it, go and catch a falling star…

Here’s a newsletter that went out to subscribers a few hours ago. Some of the material will be familiar to followers of this blog—but not all of it. There are, for example, three books free to Kindlers for the next several days, and the lowdown on Smashwords:

I don’t know how this happened, but a glance at my calendar tells me that 2013’s half gone. (I suppose that makes me a pessimist, seeing the calendar half empty, when an optimist would see it half full.) But where did the past six months go? I ask in vain; “Tell me where all past years are,” John Donne implored, and as far as I can make out, nobody told him.

I don’t know where the time goes, but I know where I’m going, and that’s Out Of Dodge. I’ll be away from mid-July until late August, with my internet access hovering somewhere between Slim and None. So, as this’ll be my last newsletter for the next two months, I’ll devote it to answering your questions…Yes, you in the back, with the silly hat.

Today’s Tuesday. Does this mean there won’t be any more Orange Wednesdays until the fall?

It does, but can’t you see a hint of orange on today’s horizon? As a parting gift, I’ve made three Kindle titles yours for the taking for the next several days. I’ll tell you more in a moment. Yes?

I saw the great PW review for Catch and Release. Will it be possible to get signed copies?

CatchAndRelease2Catch and Release, a new collection of short fiction, is a joint effort of Subterranean Press and Hard Case Crime. Tony Daniel gave the book as great a review as I’ve ever received, and I gather there’s been a surge of orders. If first printings are important to you, you might want to pre-order now.

As for signed copies, I don’t expect to be offering them in LB’s Bookstore. I suspect some mystery booksellers will have them available, and know you can pre-order a signed copy from the Mysterious Bookshop (ian@mysteriousbookshop.com, 800-352-2840).

I don’t see an eBook offered on the Subterranean site. Will there be one?

There will indeed. I’ll be ePublishing it around the time that the hardcover is released. And you can be sure I’ll let you know about it.

You just mentioned LB’s eBay Bookstore. I went there a week or so ago and it seems to be closed.

You’re an observant young woman. The online bookshop is indeed closed for renovations, and will reopen sometime around Labor Day, with a big Back To School sale and auctions of some rare and one-of-a-kind items. There’ll be announcements, so stay tuned.

What’s up with JWW?

newsexualunderground2I assume you’re referring to John Warren Wells, under whose euphonious name I wrote 18 works of sexological nonfiction back in the day. I ePublished JWW’s entire backlist as Kindle Select titles, and now, as they come out from under the umbrella of Amazon exclusivity, I’m making them eVailable as well for Nook and other platforms. Four titles are already up and running: Versatile Ladies Nook Smashwords The New Sexual Underground Nook Smashwords Beyond Group Sex Nook Smashwords and Sex and the Stewardess Nook Smashwords. The other fourteen books will have to wait until I come home. Some of you look confused. Yes?

What’s Smashwords?

Smashwords is a site that enables self-publishers to cater to all varieties of eReaders. In my own case, while I can upload efficiently on my own to Kindle and Nook, Smashwords allows me to make my work accessible for Kobo, Apple, Sony Reader, and just about any eGadget on which you might wish to read it. Besides the JWW titles shown above, here are some books and short stories you can pick up from Smashwords: The Burglar Who Smelled Smoke, The Burglar Who Dropped In On Elvis, Keller in Dallas, Generally Speaking, The Night and the Music, A Stab in the Dark, A Walk Among the Tombstones, A Long Line of Dead Men, Matando a Castro, Ehrengraf For the Defense, Collecting Ackermans, Clean Slate, Let’s Get Lost, Batman’s Helpers, and By the Dawn’s Early Light.

Go ahead, load up your eTruck. I can wait…

What’s next after Catch and Release?

Another collection, with the likely title of  The Murders in Memory Lane. It’ll consist of my newspaper and magazine nonfiction—critical essays, introductions, appreciations, and remembrances, all of them centered on the mystery genre. And it’ll be followed by a similar volume, as yet untitled, assembling pieces about New York, about the rest of the world, and about, well, me.

Both of these will be eBooks which I’ll publish myself, and I’ll probably bring out trade paperback editions as well. And there’s a good possibility there’ll be a small hardcover edition of The Murders in Memory Lane for collectors. The books will most likely be published in the late fall. Rest assured that I’ll let you know the details in plenty of time.

Okay, I’ve been patient. Now tell us about the free stuff.

Fair enough. If you’ve got a Kindle, you can download two of my short stories and one full-length book at no cost during the next several days.

Which stories? Which book? Where are the *@#$%&!!! links?

Hey, y’all are resourceful. You don’t need no stinking links. You don’t even need titles. Go to Amazon and hunt them down for yourselves. Think of the fun you’ll have!

Meanwhile, let me share some cover art I’m particularly fond of. Mulholland’s trade paperback edition of Hit Me is scheduled for October release, and the cover’s a complete departure from the hardcover. I loved that one, and I’m just as keen on the paperback version:

Block_HitMe_PB 3-1 3

And Shanghai Translations is bringing out the four Chip Harrison titles in Simplified Chinese, and how do you like this approach?

chinaScoresAgain

Great covers, but how good are the translations?

I’ll let you know after I’ve given them a close reading.

Yeah, right. What about audio? Didn’t you blog about audio recently?

I did, and thanks for reminding me! A reviewer said something really nice about my own work as a narrator, and how could I possibly keep that to myself? It turned out that I had a lot to report about audiobooks, and those of you who follow my blog don’t need to wade through it all again. But this newsletter reaches more folk than subscribe to the blog, so one mouse click and you can catch up for yourselves.

You know, I’m beginning to get an idea where the time goes. A fair amount of it goes into putting these newsletters together. But I can’t say I regret a moment of it, and can but thank you for your part in the process, and wish you well until we meet again in early September.

LB

LB’s Bookstore on eBay
LB’s Blog and Website
LB’s Facebook Fan Page
Twitter:  @LawrenceBlock

PS: As always, please feel free to forward this to anyone you think might find it of interest. And, if you’ve received the newsletter in that fashion from a friend and would like your own subscription, that’s easily arranged; a blank email to lawbloc@gmail.com with Newsletter in the subject line will get the job done.

Catch & Release

Two of my favorite publishers have teamed up to offer Catch and Release. I could say more about it, but I’d much rather yield the floor to Tony Daniel, who has this to say in the July 1 issue of Publishers Weekly:

“Crime writer Lawrence Block, who turns 75 this year, is beyond a legend and practically a force of nature at this point in his career. You might expect this collection of relatively new material to come in on the nostalgic side, to be attenuated due to the master’s age, to present as a lagniappe to a successful career. Instead, Block’s latest collection will scare the hell out of you, turn your perception inside out, and generally provide the same thrill ride of expert characterization and twisted expectation as the best of Block has always done.

CatchAndRelease2“The collection’s strongest entry, the insidiously creepy “A Vision in White,” lulls us with a neat précis of the mentality of the common straight man watching women’s tennis, trying to appreciate the sport while mentally dealing in a semireasonable fashion with the titillation of exposed legs, curving torsos, and very short dresses. And as reason slowly crumbles in the narrator, down we go with him into a sinkhole of depravity. When realization sinks into our bones (and other nether regions) that “somewhere inside I am this guy,” we must shudder at how easily we were led astray.

“In the title story, we meet a serial killer who has adopted the Zen-like fisherman’s wisdom of Izaak Walton and Charles Cotton’s The Compleat Angler. Except, that is, when he doesn’t particularly feel like it. Until the final sentence, we wonder, as he does, whether the present catch will be a “keeper.” And in a strong pair of longer tales dealing with the themes of greed and lust, a priest, a doctor, a soldier, and a policeman, all archetypically gritty and authentic old men who play poker together, share anecdotes of depravity, perversion, heroism gutted by hubris, and evil punished by receiving its long-sought reward. Fans will be glad to see the appearance of Matthew Scudder, Block’s AA-attending, world-weary series PI from A Drop of the Hard Stuff (2011) and many others, in two stories.

“The collection is packed with Block’s boundless selection of societal miscreants, sociopaths, anger-management dropouts, stone cold killers, and seemingly normal people who discover a particular scab on their psyches they can’t or won’t stop picking. Like the protagonist of “Catch and Release,” Block’s fishing tactics are honed to perfection. Bait the hook with an air of normalcy. Lull the reader with the sense that this one will be easy takings. Make the bait wriggle with a telling detail or two. The strike. The yank. The set. And there we are, on the hook of a Block tale once again. If Block were a serial killer instead of one of the best storytellers of our time, we’d be in real trouble. Instead, we are in for the tremor of dreadful delight in that moment of frisson and identification that great crime writing provides: the knowledge that, given slightly different circumstances, we might easily be one of these desperados of existence. Or, even more frightening, that our own lives might be as depraved in their own way as one of Block’s portraits of diverting degeneracy, and we might be glimpsing a darkness dug into our own hearts.”

Crikey, what can I add to that? Just the admonition that Subterranean Press titles sometimes sell out before publication. If you want to guarantee a first printing, you might want to pre-order.

catchandreleaseAnd one more thing: Catch and Release is the title of the volume, but it’s also the title of one of the stories included therein. (The title story, so to speak.) That individual short story is available for Kindle for $2.99; you may want to pick it up now as a taste of the collection to come, but I mention this so that you’ll know it’s just one story, not the whole book.  (The Amazon page is not helpful at all; it says you’re saving $27.01 compared to the printed book. Yeah, right.)  Here’s a link for the story, and here’s the cover art.

LB

Can you hear me now?

eightmillionaudio“For those used to listening to crime stories on audio, [Michael] Kelly’s take on [Stephen King’s] Joyland might be jarring. The narrators of Lawrence Block’s Matt Scudder series, for example – Alan Sklar, William Roberts, Mark Hammer – explore every word as a threat, pummeling headlong toward finales composed of shock and sadness. (Only Block himself, on Eight Million Ways to Die, seems to get to the deep sorrow of the character).”

So writes Kevin Quigley in his fearnet.com review of Joyland. I quote it here not merely because it’s both (a) about me me me and (b) favorable, but because I find it reassuring after a couple of recent posts criticizing my narrative efforts as flat and undramatic, and lacking in the quality that can be imparted by a professional voice artist.

Neither critical response is invalid. A thing worth noting about audiobooks is that different styles work for different sets of ears. Some listeners are transported by a skilled actor who supplies a different voice for every character, and wraps it up in a performance worthy of the stage. Others don’t want the voice artist to enhance the author’s words, but merely to convey them with no more inflection that they’d get on the printed page. And there are no end of gradations between the two extremes.

For my own part, I’m not enough of a listener to have a preference. I don’t absorb information well by listening to it; the only way for me to experience a book is to read the thing. I don’t need to smell the paper, eBooks work as well as printed ones for me (and even better, as the years shrink the print on the page). But books for me are an essentially visual medium, and when I try listening to one my mind wanders.

But that’s just me. If I’m not a consumer of audiobooks, I’m certainly an enthusiastic content provider. Search for my name at audible.com and you’ll be furnished with an astonishing 94 listings. I’ve watched the medium grow from the high-minded backwater of Talking Books for the Blind to a broad-based and robust marketplace. I know people who never developed the habit of reading because printed books don’t work for them any better than audiobooks do for me; once they’ve discovered that they can read with their ears, a whole new world has opened up for them.

telling lies audioMy first efforts at narration began in the mid-1990s, when I voiced the Burglar books for Penguin Audio. The books were severely abridged, reduced to a third or less of their original length, and I hated to see so many of my best words left on the cutting room floor—but I have to say I liked the work. It took its toll; at the end of my first studio session, in which we’d wrapped a two-hour abridged audiobook in five or six hours, I came home and slept for sixteen hours. But the process became less exhausting as I got used to it, and I never stopped finding it a gratifying challenge.

I even published an audiobook. Irked that no one had audio-published Telling Lies for Fun & Profit, I hired a producer I’d worked with previously and ran a couple of thousand cassettes. When selling them got to be a headache, I licensed the whole thing to Recorded Books, and their edition has been a steady seller ever since.

Besides Telling Lies, audible.com lists three other books I’ve voiced: Eight Million Ways to Die, Hit Parade, and The Night and the Music. (Search my titles for those I’ve narrated and you’ll get those and a dozen more, but eleven are individual stories from The Night and the Music, while the twelfth is an abridged edition of Hope to Die. I can’t recommend the abridgement—or any abridgement, really; an unabridged Hope to Die will be along in due course.)

While I’m very pleased that Kevin Quigley liked my work with Eight Million Ways to Die, the great majority of my audiobooks have been narrated by professional voice artists, and they’ve served me campustrampaudiovery well indeed. (At least that’s what everybody tells me. I don’t listen to audiobooks, and I for sure don’t listen to them if they’re books I happen to have written.) And I’m especially aware of this these days, with a whole batch of my Open Road backlist books in audio. If anybody had told me 55 years ago, when I was back home in Buffalo, writing Carla on a little maple desk in my parents’ house at 422 Starin Avenue, that the day would come when Julie Roundtree would actually read the damn thing out loud for people to download and listen to…Why, you might as well try to convince me Eva Wilhelm would record Campus Tramp. Yeah, right.

rabdomwalkaudioNever mind. If you’re a fan of audiobooks, I hope you’ll treat your ears to some of mine. If you’re planning a road trip, Norman Dietz’s rendition of Random Walk will make the miles go faster. If you really want to kick back and relax, pick any title, and read with your eyes closed.

And I might as well admit that I’m particularly motivated to urge this action upon you now, and to hope that you act sooner rather than later. Audible.com launched a program last summer, paying their authors a bonus for every audiobook sold. As far as I can tell, it was designed solely to generate good will, and I have to say it accomplished that end in this household.

But it was a temporary thing, and it ends the last day of June. So, if you were going to buy some audiobooks of mine sooner or later, well, sooner is better.

And even if you’re not in the market, what can it hurt to look?

LB

JWW moves beyond Kindle

Launching the 18 John Warren Wells books as Kindle Select titles has allowed me to give some away periodically, so that y’all can see if they’re your cup of tea (or 5-hour energy drink). But that meant leaving out all the Nooksters and ApplePickers and Kobo Hoboes among you, so over the next several months I’ll be making the books eVailable one by one at Barnes & Noble (for Nook) and Smashwords (for Apple, Kobo, Sony Reader)…

To read the rest, scan the full list of JWW titles, and see the new cover for Versatile Ladies, go to the John Warren Wells page.

Or you can skip all that and buy Versatile Ladies for Nook or Smashwords. (Or for Kindle, as far as that goes…)

All around the town…

east side west sideAs I’ve mentioned, I’ve been gathering up odds and ends of nonfiction, with a book or two in mind. I came across a foreword I’d written for East Side, West Side, Lawrence S. Ritter’s nostalgic survey of New York sporting life from 1910 to 1960. My piece emerged largely as a recollection of my father, in the context of the book’s theme, and I’ll have no trouble finding a place for it in the collection.

I recalled that Ritter’s invitation to supply a foreword had come out of the blue, perhaps through our sharing a publisher in HarperCollins. Along with the invitation and the text of East Side, West Side, I received a copy of Lost Ballparks, a beautiful volume that brought me memories of Offermann Stadium, where I’d watched the Buffalo Bisons—and, incidentally, where I got an advance look at Jackie Robinson when he was playing for the Montreal Royals.

That put me in the mood to write the foreword, but before I did I got hold of Ritter’s The Glory of Their Times, perhaps the best baseball book ever written, and read it cover to cover. I sent off my foreword, and Ritter responded by inviting me to lunch. His company was as good in person as on the page, and there’d have been more lunches but we were both frequently out of town. When the book came out, Total Sports Publishing ballyhooed the event with a luncheon at Gallagher’s Steak House, the ideal venue for it, and no end of sports figures showed up. My sole memory of the event is that I got to sit next to Willis Reed.

Larry’s health wasn’t good, and while we exchanged a few emails I don’t believe we ever met up again, and then in February of 2004 he died. I established as much at Wikipedia, where I found a link to George Vecsey’s touching obituary, newly pertinent with A-Rod again a focus of controversy.

But what I didn’t find on Ritter’s Wikipedia page was a listing for East Side, West Side. His other books were present, even including Principles of Money, Banking, and Financial Markets. (Ritter was an economics professor, and the book’s still in print; check out the bargain price!) But East Side, West Side was not to be found.

So I enrolled as a Wikipedia editor and added it to the list. And wound up with the great satisfaction of having contributed to the body of knowledge, along with something to blog about.

At long last, Wednesday comes up orange…

Here’s a newsletter that went out earlier today to subscribers:

Oh dear. Just the other day I got an email from a fellow who wanted to be restored to the newsletter list. I checked, and he was never off it. But it’s been so long between installments that I can understand his concern. I was away for a while, on a small-ship cruise of the North Atlantic, and I’ve been working on a pair of book projects, of which more in a moment. So I haven’t prepared a newsletter, nor have I done much lately in the way of blogging or tweeting or Facebooking.

If this were a magazine with paid subscriptions, you’d probably want your money back. And I wouldn’t blame you. I can’t offer you a refund, but I’ll do the next best thing. To celebrate this ever-so-Orange Wednesday, I’m giving away a pair of Kindle eBooks.

But we’ll get to that.

ehrengraf_ftdFirst, some news. Over the years, I’ve written occasionally about Martin H. Ehrengraf, a dapper little lawyer who never loses a case—and never has to show up in a courtroom, either. For a while now, my Ehrengraf stories have been Kindle Select titles, available exclusively through Amazon. I was thus able to give them away on Orange Wednesdays, and Kindle Prime members had a chance to borrow them.

That’s still true for the individual short stories. There are eleven of them—a Thief’s Dozen, as Donald Westlake would put it. They’re all priced at $2.99 except for the first, “The Ehrengraf Defense,” a loss leader at 99¢. If you bought them individually, you’d pay a total of $30.89.

But why on earth would you want to do that? The complete book, Ehrengraf for the Defense, is now available not just at Kindle but at Nook and Smashwords as well for a mere $5.99.

manhattan noir 2One of the hats I’ve worn from time to time is that of anthologist. I’ve been especially happy with Opening Shots and Master’s Choice, each of which ran to two volumes, and happier still with my two entries in Akashic’s seemingly endless Noir series, Manhattan Noir and Manhattan Noir 2. The latter volume, for which I collected dark Manhattan stories clear back to Edith Wharton and Stephen Crane, has been a source of great satisfaction to me, tempered only by its unavailability as an eBook—because Akashic was unable to clear eRights to a couple of the stories.

Well, there’s more than one way to skin a virtual cat. Akashic simply left out the unobtainable stories, and while it would have been nice to have them all, the book’s still a good deal. It got a starred review in Publishers Weekly, and as far as I know it’s the only Akashic Noir title to include poetry—by Edgar Allan Poe, Horace Gregory, and Geoffrey Bartholomew. Available for all platforms, including Kindle and Nook.

Didn’t you say something about a pair of book projects?

Oh, right. I’ve done a fair amount of nonfiction over the years. Aside from my books for writers (Telling Lies For Fun & Profit, Spider Spin Me a Web, Write For Your Life, The Liar’s Bible, The Liar’s Companion, Writing the Novel) I’ve written more than enough magazine pieces to fill a book. Much of the stuff was written pre-computer, so I’ve been busy rounding everything up and cobbling it into shape, but sometime later this year I should have two books ready to go. One will be about crime fiction and some of the people who write it; the other will be more of a miscellany, with travel pieces and such. I’ll be publishing both volumes as eBooks, of course, but suspect I’ll bring them out as trade paperbacks as well. When I know more, so will you.

CatchAndRelease2Meanwhile, Subterranean Press is teaming up with Hard Case Crime to bring out my new short story collection, Catch and Release. If you know this small press, I don’t have to tell you what a high-quality job they do; if they’re new to you, here’s a great opportunity to make their acquaintance. Booklist had this to say in a starred review: “Block’s short stories are intelligent and respectful of the reader yet often take an unexpected turn. He plays fair. If you reread the story, you’ll find that he left you little clues about the final destination but didn’t connect the dots. Block is a master of the long-form mystery, and this collection proves he’s got the short form locked down as well.” Subterranean sometimes sells out an edition in a hurry, and doesn’t always go back to press, so pre-ordering might be a good idea.

I don’t know how many of you may have read Step By Step, my memoir centered on running and racewalking. (Damn few of you, if the publisher’s royalty statements are to be believed.) I mention it because there’s an excerpt in the just-published collection, The 27th Mile, an anthology my friend Ray Charbonneau spearheaded to benefit the victims of the Boston Marathon outrage. There are some real runners here, and it’s safe to say that my contribution is probably the least interesting of the lot. Check it out.

Enough already. When do we get to the free stuff?

beyondgroupsexOh, right. First up is Beyond Group Sex, free to Kindlers through June 23rd. It’s the work of the ineffable John Warren Wells, whose case-history collections walk the straight and narrow path between fact and fiction. I ePublished my eighteen JWW titles as Kindle Select titles, so that I could use them now and then to brighten your Wednesdays. Now it’s time to make JWW available to a larger audience, and over the next several months I’ll be offering the books at Nook and Smashwords.

For now, Kindlers can snap up Beyond Group Sex, and Amazon Prime members can make a JWW title your monthly choice for borrowing.

Next up is a short story, Headaches and Bad Dreams. It was written for The Best of the Best, Joe Pittman and Elaine Koster’s anthology, and appeared as well in EQMM’s December 1997 issue. It’s about a psychic with a gift that keeps on giving. As I write these lines it’s still on sale at $2.99, but as of 3am Thursday, June 20, it’ll be free as a phalarope for the next five days.

If you’re ordering one of the freebies from outside the US, no problem—but you’ll want to go to the appropriate Amazon site—amazon.br, amazon.ca, amazon.co.uk, amazon.de, amazon.es, amazon.fr, amazon.jp, amazon.it, etc.

There are new ones every day, aren’t there?

It seems that way, doesn’t it? And each and every one of them is selling my books. Isn’t it wonderful?

akalitusAnd what else can I tell you? Well, after a long silence, I did manage a couple of blog posts since we got home from the cruise. Here’s Bernie Rhodenbarr, Lost and Found, a newspaper op-ed piece you’re unlikely to have read before. And here’s My Buddy Akalitus, posted just yesterday. If you follow my blog you’ve already seen them; if not, enjoy.

Finally, but for the distinct orange tint it bears, today may seem like just another day. But my friend Marilyn emailed me this morning to remind me that it’s Keller’s birthday. She’s a right wonder at keeping track of these things. If you want to celebrate, well, HarperCollins has the first four books on special at $3.79 apiece, and Mulholland has the new book, Hit Me, reduced to $8.89. What better way to wish your favorite philatelist a happy birthday?

LB

LB’s Bookstore on eBay
LB’s Blog and Website
LB’s Facebook Fan Page
Twitter:  @LawrenceBlock

PS: As always, please feel free to forward this to anyone you think might find it of interest. And, if you’ve received the newsletter in that fashion from a friend and would like your own subscription, that’s easily arranged; a blank email to lawbloc@gmail.com with Newsletter in the subject line will get the job done.

My Buddy Akalitus

akalitusOn a Sunday evening a little over a month ago, my Frequent Companion and I were on our way to the Encores! production of On Your Toes. As we walked west on 56th Street, I caught sight of an eastbound woman a few yards to my left. I knew her but couldn’t place her, and I smiled and gave her a wave. She smiled broadly, gave me a wave in return, and continued on toward Sixth Avenue while Lynne and I went on toward City Center.

“Oh, for God’s sake,” I said. “You know who that was?”

“A friend of yours, and she looked familiar, but—”

“That was Akalitus,” I said. She looked puzzled. “Anna Deavere Smith, she plays Gloria Akalitus on Nurse Jackie.

“Oh, right. She’s a wonderful actress. I couldn’t place her.”

“Neither could I.”

“I didn’t know you knew her.”

“I don’t,” I said.

“But—”

“But I thought I did, and I waved to her the way you wave in passing to a friend or acquaintance. And, since I thought I knew her, and acted accordingly, she thought she knew me, and waved back the same way.”

After the final curtain, we went home on the subway and watched that evening’s Nurse Jackie episode. As Edie Falco’s boss and hospital administrator, Smith’s character was having memory problems suggestive of dementia.

“There’s your friend Akalitus,” Lynne said. “No wonder she didn’t remember you.”

It was, to be sure, a nice New York moment, but it’s stayed with me more than I’d have expected. I’ve had a special feeling ever since for Anna Deavere Smith, as if we’ve known each other, although I’m not delusional enough to suppose that our relationship exists outside a shadowy chamber in my mind.

Nurse Jackie ended its fourth season two nights ago—Akulitis’s memory problems, I’m pleased to report, turned out to be the temporary side effect of medication—but I may not have to wait as long as the rest of you to renew my acquaintance with Ms. Smith. A friend of mine is the show’s executive producer, and has invited us to visit the set when they start shooting Season Five.

I look forward to my first meeting with my old pal.

chicoAnd all of this, curiously, reminds me of a story. A Hollywood friend told me quite a few years ago about a woman of a certain age who’d done some organizational work for a benefit at which the actor Jack Albertson, then starring on TV in Chico and the Man, had appeared. Some months later she saw Albertson perform at a theater in Santa Monica, and the friend who accompanied her told her she ought to go backstage and say hello.

“I don’t know if I should do that,” she said. “He won’t remember me.”

“So? I bet he will. The two of you hit it off. And even if he doesn’t, you’ll say nice things about his performance and he’ll be flattered. Where’s the harm in that?”

So she went backstage, where Albertson gave her a big hello. She complimented him on his performance, and they chatted about this and that, and then he said, “And how about yourself? Are you working?”

Not really, she said, flustered. A little volunteer work, of course, and—

“Oh, that’s terrible,” Albertson said. “With your talent, and everything you’ve done in this business? You should be working. Listen, I’ll tell you what we’ll do, we’ll find something on Chico for you…”

He knew that he knew her, and assumed that she was an actress. And now she had to explain that all she was was a Hadassah committee member, and not really up to learning lines for a TV role.

“With your talent, and everything you’ve done in this business…”

I’ll have to tell Akalitus that story. If I know her, she’ll get a kick out of it.

Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time…

I’ve been gathering up various newspaper and magazine pieces of mine—and yes, there’ll be a book coming in due course. But my exploration of the New York Times Index now and then yields something like this, in John Maxwell Hamilton’s 1990 essay on novelists’ dedications and acknowledgements:

toplesstulipcaper“But for practicality, no one can beat Lawrence Block. He dedicated The Topless Tulip Caper (1975) to the Edgar Allan Poe Award selection committee of the Mystery Writers of America, and to three book reviewers – Barbara Bannon of Publishers Weekly, Newgate Callendar (who writes about thrillers in this publication) and John Dickson Carr, whose notices appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine.”

I know, I know. Shameless beyond words. And did it even work? Well, I’d be hard put to tell you what books got Edgar nominations that year for Best Paperback Novel, but Topless Tulip was not among them. I don’t believe Barbara Bannon or John Dickson Carr reviewed the book. Harold Schoenberg, the music critic who became Newgate Callendar when reviewing crime fiction, did review the book, but he’d given just as generous a review to its predecessor, Make Out With Murder, so I don’t know that flattery got me anywhere.

On the other hand, fifteen years later I wound up in Mr. Hamilton’s essay, and another 23 years down the line I get to blog about it. You say no good deed goes unpunished? Well, no bad deed goes entirely unrewarded, either. So there.

LB