Speaking of Greed: Stories of Envious Desire Hardcover – Sep 19 2001
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About the Author
LAWRENCE BLOCK, a Mystery Writers of America Grand Master, is a four-time winner of the Edgar Allen Poe and Shamus Awards and a recipient of literary prizes in France, Germany, and Japan. The author of more than fifty books, including fourteen Matthew Scudder novels and Even the Wicked, he lives in New York City.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The title story "Speaking of Greed" by Lawrence Block is the highlight of the collection. It consists of a framing story--a doctor, a policeman, a priest, and a soldier sitting around a poker table and sharing their stories and opinions of the sin of avarice. The stories they tell each other--vignettes within the larger frame--each illustrate some shade, complexity, or twist on the subject of greed. Like most of Block's writing since the early 1980's, the prose seems to float effortlessly off the page, as if the author is simply talking out loud to you off the top of his head, but there is a crafty subtle art going on. While it entertains, this story forces you to ask philosophical questions and perhaps redefine some of your preconceptions.
Unfortunately, I was not overly impressed with the other stories in this collection (not surprising, since neither was I fond of most of the stories in the first volume Speaking of Lust). Several stories such as “One Hit Wonder” and “Rotten to the Core” were just predictable and unoriginal. “Come Down From the Hills”, “A Taste of Paradise” and “Deadly Fantasies” had potential, a good opening hook and meaty offbeat characters, but the authors seemed in a hurry to wrap up the action too quickly and so never let the plot develop any satisfying depth.
On the bright side, I did enjoy a few of them:
[“the answer”] by F. Paul Wilson – OK, this is not really a great story, but it is a great idea. The actual title is literally unprintable (written in some sort of overlapping wing-dings font). This is part of the story; it is a special secret word that rewards you with the perfect answer to any question. It can only be pronounced verbally, never communicated in writing. It is very dangerous.
“Inside Job” by Ed Gorman – An amusing character piece driven almost entirely by dialog. I should have seen the end coming a mile away, but instead I got so wrapped up in the characters I was taken by surprise.
“The $5,000 Getaway” by Jack Ritchie– A traditional 1950’s era pulp piece that hit all the right notes and was particularly satisfying.
“My Heart Cries For You” by Bill Crider – A dark, funny tale about what happens if you marry for money instead of love
“Goodbye, Sue Ellen” by Gillian Roberts – A laugh out loud, slapstick crime tale about a marriage on the rocks and a family fortune in the balance
Will we ever see Speaking of Wrath? Who knows? Lawrence Block is still writing and anthologizing. Cumberland House Publishing still has a Facebook page. I won’t be too disappointed if this anthology series is not resuscitated, but I would like to see Lawrence Block write the remaining five novellas and sequence them into a single collection.