|Birth Day:||June 24, 1938|
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He briefly attended Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Early in his career, he published works of erotic fiction.
Block describes series character Martin H. Ehrengraf as a dapper little criminal defense lawyer whose clients all turn out to be innocent. Ehrengraf charges a mere $1 retainer fee and afterwards works on contingency; he gets paid a massive fee if and only if his clients are cleared of wrongdoing. When his clients are cleared, it's because Ehrengraf has committed misdeeds up to and including murder to exonerate his client and often frame another for the crimes. The first short story featuring Ehrengraf, “The Ehrengraf Defense,” was published in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine in 1978. By 2003, twelve stories had been published and in 2012 Block completed an eleventh story, “The Ehrengraf Settlement.” All eleven were collected and published in an eVolume, Ehrengraf For The Defense (2012).
Block's most famous creation, the ever-evolving Matthew Scudder, was introduced in 1976's The Sins of the Fathers as an alcoholic ex-cop working as an unlicensed private investigator in Hell's Kitchen. Originally published as paperbacks, the early novels are in many ways interchangeable; the second and third entries—In the Midst of Death (1976) and Time to Murder and Create (1977)—were written in the opposite order from their publication dates. 1982's 8 Million Ways to Die (filmed in 1986 by Hal Ashby, with unpopular results) breaks from that trend, concluding with Scudder introducing himself at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. The series was set to end on that note, but an idle promise Block had made to supply an editor friend with an original Scudder short resulted in "By the Dawn's Early Light", a story set during the character's drinking days, but told from the perspective of a recovering alcoholic. Block expanded on that with 1986's When the Sacred Ginmill Closes (named for a line in a song by folk singer Dave Van Ronk, a close friend), which proved not only one of the more literary entries, but also a favorite of the author and his fans. From then on, Scudder's circumstances rarely remain the same from one book to the next; 1990's A Ticket to the Boneyard, for example, reunites him with Elaine Mardell, a hooker from his days on the force, whom he marries several books later. Other fan favorites are 1991's taut, gruesome A Dance at the Slaughterhouse (winner of the Edgar Award for Best [mystery] Novel), and 1993's A Long Line of Dead Men, a tightly plotted puzzler featuring a rapidly dwindling fraternity known as the "Club of 31". A Walk Among the Tombstones, published in 1992, was made into a film, released in 2014, written and directed by Scott Frank, with Liam Neeson playing the lead role. The seventeenth entry, A Drop of the Hard Stuff was published in May, 2011.
The second novel, The Burglar in The Closet was filmed in 1987 as Burglar, with Whoopi Goldberg as Bernie (or Bernice).
There are also three Bernie Rhodenbarr short stories: "Like a Thief in the Night" (Cosmopolitan, May 1983), "The Burglar Who Dropped In On Elvis" (Playboy, April 1990), and "The Burglar Who Smelled Smoke" (Mary Higgins Clark Mystery Magazine, Summer/Fall 1997). These stories are collected in the 2002 anthology, Enough Rope.
In 2005 he was honored with the Gumshoe Lifetime Achievement Award.
In addition to writing the scripts for a handful of television episodes over the years—including, in 2005, two episodes of the ESPN series Tilt—Block co-wrote the screenplay for My Blueberry Nights, a 2007 film directed by Wong Kar-wai and starring Norah Jones.
Block's earliest work, published pseudonymously in the 1950s, was mostly in the soft-porn mass market paperback industry, an apprenticeship he shared with fellow mystery author Donald E. Westlake. Block describes the early sex novels as a valuable experience, noting that despite the titillating content of the books (rather mild by later standards of adult fiction) he was expected to write fully developed novels with plausible plots, characters and conflicts. He further credits the softcore novels as a factor in his prolific output; writing 15 to 20 sex novels per year to support himself financially, Block was forced to learn to write in a manner that required little revision and editing of his first drafts. His first novel was a lesbian fiction titled Strange Are The Ways of Love, written under the name Lesley Evans. In 2016, Block reissued this novel with a new title Shadows, under another of his pseudonyms, Jill Emerson.
Four episodic novels (Hit Man (1998), Hit List (2000), Hit Parade (2006) and Hit Me (2013)) as well as one full-length novel (Hit and Run (2008)) chronicle the life of Keller, a lonely, wistful hitman who originally appeared as a semi-regular feature in Playboy magazine in the 1990s. Most of the novels are fix-ups of related short stories; Hit and Run is the only Keller novel conceived of and written as a single story. In 2016, a new novella was published Keller's Fedora, in which Keller is persuaded to come out of retirement for one last job.
Currently, Lawrence Block is 84 years, 7 months and 7 days old. Lawrence Block will celebrate 85th birthday on a Saturday 24th of June 2023.
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