Another snippet from Lawrence Block. I’m still not sure what it is about the writing that so impresses me. I mean, it’s not really Block’s voice we hear; it’s Matt Scudder’s. And the style of those words is so characteristic of Scudder, so unadorned, so alcoholic dark. I thought I’d learned all there was to learn about AA from the other books in the series, but this one is really loaded (no pun intended), the plot hinging on Step 9 of the Twelve Steps, the step where one makes amends to all who have ever been harmed by the one making the Step 9 list. But back to the style, listen to what Matt has to say about one of the choices an alcoholic has to make.
"Armstrong’s. When I first got sober I couldn’t see why I couldn’t go there anymore. Whether or not you were drinking, it was a good place to sit, a good place to eat, a good place to meet prospective clients. I heard it said at meetings that one way to avoid a slip was to stay out of slippery places, but on the other hand I kept running into bartenders who’d held on to their jobs after they sobered up. It is, after all, the drink that gets you drunk, not the place where they sell the awful stuff." (p. 138, A Drop of the Hard Stuff)
I can't seem to leave it alone. It's like an itch that won't stop reminding you it's there. Another snippet: "The super at Jack's rooming house was named Ferdie Pardo. Short for Ferdinand, I suppose. He wore a dark blue work shirt with the sleeves rolled up. He had a pack of Kools in his shirt pocket and a pencil behind his ear, and he looked like a man who didn't expect the day to turn out well." (p. 248, A Drop of the Hard Stuff)
And while I’m at it, why not two jokes, one from Hard Stuff and one from Sandford’s Winter Prey.
Mailman brings the mail to this one house and the wife invites him in, gives him a fresh-baked brownie and a cup of coffee. Next thing he knows she’s taking him upstairs to the bedroom. Afterwards she hands him a dollar. And he says, “Hey, what’s this?” “It’s for you,” she says. “It was my husband’s idea.” “Your husband’s Idea?” “Yeah,” she says. “I asked him what should we do for the mailman for Christmas, and he said, Fuck him, give him a dollar. The brownie and coffee were my idea.” (pp. 204-05, A Drop of the Hard Stuff)
Guy walks into a bar, he’s got a head the size of a baseball, says, “Gimme a beer.” The bartender shoves a glass of Bud across the bar and says, “Listen, pal, it’s none of my business, but a big guy like you—how’d you get a little teeny head like that?” The guy says, “Well, I was down in Jamaica, walking on the beach, when I see this bottle. I pull the top off, and holy shit, a genie pops out. I mean, she was gorgeous. She had a body that wouldn’t quit, great ass, tits the size of watermelons. And she says I can have a wish. So I said, ‘Well look, you know, what I'd wish for, is to make love to you.’ And the genie says, ‘Sorry, that’s one thing I’m not allowed to do.’ So then I say, ‘Okay, how about a little head?’ ” (p. 160, Winter Prey)