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STEP BY STEP by Lawrence Block

STEP BY STEP

A Pedestrian Memoir

By Lawrence Block

Pub Date: June 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-06-172181-6
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

The prolific crime novelist (Hit and Run, 2008, etc.) writes about his adventures as a racewalker.

The author’s focus at first seems puzzling. Block chooses not to tell the story of his writing life—a project he began but abandoned after weeks of feverish writing—or his personal life (“if you wanted to know something about me, well, too bad”). Instead, the memoir focuses almost entirely on his distance walking. Generally these walks are competitive—marathons and 24-hour walks in which the globetrotting Block consistently ignores both the scenery (he leaves his glasses at home) and the other runners and concentrates on beating his shortest time and longest distance. When he’s not entering formal events—from which he took a hiatus for more than 20 years—he and his wife are driving across America in search of all the towns named Buffalo or traversing Spain on foot. Block occasionally goes off on amusing tangents. He writes briefly on the question of why even nonobservant Jews like himself don’t eat pork, the nature of his interfaith (make that interagnostic) marriage and his preference for trees over Porta-Potties. On the whole, though, this is an account of the author’s entering event after event, wondering why he keeps walking despite blisters and backaches. It’s telling that the only two books whose gestation he describes in any detail are his novel Random Walk (1988) and the present volume. Fans of Block’s fiction may be interested, but they should be prepared to skim the particulars of times and distances that the author assiduously records.

A peripatetic but never pedestrian memoir.