: views from the Hill

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Lawrence Block

The Village Voice brings you Signature Collection by Lawrence Block -- subtitled, "OK, you wrote a book, but how many times can you stand to write your name?"

The essay covers the travails of Block's book tour and signings and concludes, "Item: James Ellroy signed the entire first printing of My Dark Places, some 65,000 books in all. He wrote two words, James and Ellroy, 65,000 times each. That's 130,000 words, which is more than he took to write the whole damn book.

"Why, I sometimes wonder, does anybody want a book signed? I have a whole wall of books by friends, and it never occurs to me to ask them to sign them.

"My wife, who has an abiding passion for hagiography—we have a surprising number of editions of Lives of the Saints, not one of them signed—has her own theory. As she explains it, a book signed by its author is a second-degree relic, not as precious as a finger bone, but on a par with a pair of cast-off sandals.

"I like the explanation, but how long before the bastards start wanting the damned books signed in blood?"

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