Lawrence Block — Bitchier Than Second Place to Prom Queen

What’s the greatest problem of our age? The stripping of civil liberties? No. The troubling situation in Iraq? No again. The unilateral atmosphere? No, no, no! No kewpie doll for you! You ain’t connected, babe. The heavy issue, which involves the writing of 1,000 word essays for the Voice, is book signing, dammit! To which one can only reply, if you don’t want to put out, don’t spread ’em!


  1. I think he makes the point that verve for book collecting can impact good old fashion book reading in a negative way. But he did spend most of his 1000 words complaining about his book tours. Very whiney. Still, he’s not as bad as Harlan Ellison in that regard.

  2. Well, if you’re a writer of course it’s annoying when people treat your books as collectible objects, and seem to care less about their *content.*

    If you built cars, it would annoy you if someone refused to buy your car unless you signed it — and then locked it into a garage and never drove it.

    Then there is the sneaking suspicion that collecting signed books is an “arbitrary obsession” — that is, the collector might easily replace that hobby with any other obsessive-compulsive behavior, such as collecting garden gnomes.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that… ๐Ÿ˜‰


  3. C’mon, Ed, that’s a pretty reasonable rant. The encounter with the ‘dame in Charlottesville the other day’ obviously prompted it, and you can see why. Signing for genuinely interested readers is one thing, but feeling as if you’re just making money for middlemen is quite another; and when placing books at stores hinges on whether or not they’re signed, it must be hard to avoid that feeling.

    The solution, of course, is to have an illegible signature that’s easily imitated by trained monkeys in Lawrence Block masks.

  4. If some jerk shows up at my book signing, drops five copies of the same identical book on the table, and asks me sign each one, I’ll do this:

    I’ll whip out a big rubberstamp with my name on it, and stamp each one: THUNK! THUNK! THUNK! THUNK! THUNK!

    Then I’ll hold up another rubberstamp and ask, with my nicest smile: “You want a dedication too?”

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