Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Special Guests Week: Lawrence Block

Yesterday Lawrence Block's books became available as e-books through Open Road Media. Block began his writing career in the 1950s and he hasn't stopped since. Over 100 books and a multitude of prestigious awards later, he's still successfully entertaining readers. Today he's here to talk about CHIP HARRISON SCORES AGAIN.

Chip Harrison Scores Again

This is the second of four books about Chip Harrison. I thought it might prove difficult to write a sequel to No Score, but in several respects it's probably a better book. Some of the characters, especially Geraldine, the South Carolina madam, seem to me more interesting and better realized than those in the first book, and I kind of like the story’s arc. And, if it’s still boyish, it’s also bittersweet. I like bittersweet.

Chip Harrison Scores Again was first published by Gold Medal Books in 1971 and reprinted in a two-in-one volume by The Countryman Press in 1984. The double volume, Introducing Chip Harrison, bears an afterword by one Hilton Crofield, and here’s what that estimable fellow had to say:

Some Afterthoughts by Hilton Crofield

I don’t know why they asked me to write this. Somebody’s original brilliant idea was for me to write an introduction to the new edition of No Score and Chip Harrison Scores Again, and I said OK. Don’t ask me why. Then somebody else got the bright idea of calling the double volume Introducing Chip Harrison, which meant that I would be saddled with the job of introducing Introducing Chip Harrison, and I said that, if you really want to know, I’d rather go into the bathroom and squeeze a pimple. So they said OK, we’ll make it an afterword, and I said OK again. Don’t ask me why. It’s not as if I was getting paid for this.

Chip Harrison needs no introduction, and I don’t suppose he needs an afterword either, so you can stop reading right now . . . If you’re still with me, I just want to tell you that these are my kind of books. Chip Harrison is a sort of a lecher on the wry side. More than that, when you finish the book you want to call him up and talk about it.

Listen, I’ve got a tip for you. Don’t do it. Years ago I wrote a book and dais how sometimes I wanted to call the author in the middle of the night, and this guy named Ottinger had his name down as author and so many weird kids called him up in the middle of the night that the poor guy lost it. He went up to Maine or Vermont and quit writing and only leaves his house once a year. He always sees his shadow, and it's always six more weeks of winter.

I wouldn't want that to happen to Chip Harrison. I've already read the rest of the books, and I know that Chip went to work for Leo Haig and takes care of tropical fish when he’s not helping Haig solve crimes. If you haven’t read those books, go out and get them right now instead of wasting your time reading this crap I have to write.

Anyway, I like old Chip. I think Phoebe would like him, too. And I hope you liked him, but if you didn’t, well, tough. What do you expect me to do about it, anyway?

Oh, yeah. The business about the name. Lawrence Block is now listed as the author of the Chip Harrison books. They had Chip’s name as author originally, but now they’re supposed to be by this Lawrence Block. Same as my book is supposed to be by old Ottinger.

Well, I don’t have to believe that if I don’t want to. And neither do you. (Hilton Crofield, “Some Afterthoughts,” afterword to Introducing Chip Harrison, The Countryman Press, 1984)

In 1996, Signet reissued all four of the Chip Harrison titles as paperbacks and had the devil of a time packaging them. They wanted to call them mysteries, and the third and fourth books, Make Out with Murder and The Topless Tulip Caper, were certainly private eye puzzle mysteries, although not without the dash of levity and erotica that makes Chip Chip. But No Score and Scores Again aren’t crime novels by any stretch of the imagination. “It is a mystery,” the back cover of No Score shouts not once but three times. But it’s not a mystery, no matter how many times somebody says it is.

Never mind. Chip Harrison Scores Again was a lot of fun to write. I can only hope it’s fun to read, too.
—Lawrence Block
Greenwich Village
Lawrence Block ( welcomes your email responses; he reads them all, and replies when he can


Dorte H December 30, 2010 at 2:12 PM  

I had no idea he had written so many books - perhaps because only a few of them have been translated into Danish. I have one of his on my TBR and expect to read it in January.

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