Rediscovered: The Writings of Lawrence Block, Item by Item, Book by Book

You may have been thinking, hey, I wonder, What has Terry Zobeck been up to lately?

A guy like that, who knows what he’s been digging around in.

You got that right. One of the most prolific Guest Bloggers for Up and Down These Mean Streets and the flat-out King of the Pure Texts, Terry just popped to life a dream project — and here he is to tell us about it:

It’s mentioned before on These Mean Streets that Lawrence Block is an author whose work I admire and collect. Last year, I decided to compile a comprehensive bibliography of his works, just to document my own collection.

A Trawl Among the Shelves: Lawrence Block Bibliography, 1958-2020 has just been published in paperback and eBook, available on Amazon — and as an eBook on many other platforms.

When I completed the initial draft, I was struck by how much there was: novels, short stories, anthologies, and magazine appearances — the published book contains over 800 entries. 

I thought other collectors might be interested in it. More than 25 years have passed since A.S.A.P. publishing brought out their bibliography of Larry’s work, which focused on his crime writing and — at Larry’s request — ignored his early pseudonymous sex-novels.

Since then, through a combination of avarice and the passage of time, Larry has embraced these early works, bringing many of them back into print via his own LB Productions and other avenues.

The time was ripe, I concluded, for an expansive update.

I sent Larry the rough draft and over the next few months he provided corrections, revisions, and information on long-forgotten works.

Of especial interest to me was The Strange Sisterhood of Mme Adista, his second published book (1958), a novella done quickly and printed on the cheap to be sold under the counter in Times Square bookstores.

Not even the most ardent of Block collectors are aware of this little item. Completely forgotten. Extremely obscure. I found no copies on the Internet. The only mention I could locate was to a NY court case on obscenity — it was entered into evidence. 

Making it even more notable to collectors, it was illustrated by Gene Bilbrew, an African American artist well-known for his illustrations for fetish books and magazines. As far as I could determine, undocumented. (Larry’s “sequel” had nothing to do with the earlier volume, Madame Adista.)

Digging through his closets, he found his copy and sent it to me. 

In addition to The Strange Sisterhood of Mme Adista, I was able to document many more works by Larry that are obscure or have not been previously identified or confirmed as his work — including more sex-novels, a sex-advice “non-fiction” book, ghost-written books, numerous articles on coin collecting, essays, book reviews, and introductions/afterwords for other authors’ books.

Some of these pieces were subsequently included in Larry’s recently published collection, Hunting Buffalo with Bent Nails, the contents of which kept expanding as I turned up items ripe for inclusion.

Best of all, A Trawl Among the Shelves contains a superb afterword — “The Man Who Wrote Too Much” — by Larry in which he discusses a sex-novel he wrote under a one-off pen-name that he’d completely forgotten until my work on the bibliography jogged his memory.

All he could remember was the pen-name he’d used — enough for me to track it down.

But, you’ll have to buy a copy of A Trawl Among the Shelves to find out the name and title.

This entry was posted in Lit, News and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.