Now here's some reading material to get really excited about.
Lawrence Block, best known for his mystery series, especially the ones revolving around private investigator Matthew Scudder and thief Bernie Rhodenbarr, also is the editor of the June 2001 compilation of short stories entitled "Speaking of Lust."
What really makes you stand at attention is the fact that "Lust" is the first in a series of short story collections that focuses on the seven deadly sins - greed, sloth, pride, envy, wrath and gluttony are the others, for those who skipped "Seven."
Do you realize what this means? At some point, there's going to be a collection of short stories devoted to fat people! And another about those lazy bones that simply refuse to get out of bed. Sigh ... at last, my kind of people get their time in the spotlight.
Seriously, I don't know why this type of thing hasn't been done before. Kudos go to Block and whomever is helping him in this infinitely clever maneuver for making lust, everyone's favorite deadly sin, the focus of the first book, which is smart for two reasons. One, because everyone likes lust, it'll be sure to grab the most readers. And now they've got their work cut out for them in finding clever stories that will give the other six the same kind of attention.
If "Lust" is any indication, we're in for a treat when the presumably-titled "Speaking of Gluttony" and "Speaking of Wrath" come out. It offers a fabulous array of stories that range from delightfully sinful to shockingly sexy.
Among the best offerings:
• James W. Hall's "Crack," about a man who discovers a crack in the wall that peeks into the neighbor's bathroom and allows him to spy on their 15-year-old daughter.
• "Ro Erg," by Robert Weinberg, about a man who uses a credit card error to create a whole new persona for himself.
•Ed Gorman's "The End of It All," in which a once hideous monstrosity gets made over into the handsomest man on earth, and prepares to seduce his high school crush ... and her daughter ...
• "The Girls in Villa Costas," by Simon Brett, about a machinating womanizer who finds himself torn between a beautiful woman and her less-attractive-but-stands-to-inherit-the-family-fortune sister.
Aside from introducing and editing the book, Block also writes the title novella. It is here that another reading delight emerges, and in his introduction Block promises that subsequent tales using the same characters will follow in the future books.
Most likely using Chaucer's "The Canterbury Tales" as a model (Did anyone else enjoy reading this classic in high school? After all, those stories about white whales, scarlet letters and tales about two cities, this classic had farting and people having sex in orange trees! Finally, some decent reading material!), Block's story is really just several people - a priest, a policeman, a doctor, a soldier and an old guy - sitting around playing cards and talking about the ways lust has affected their occupations and lives. Lively discussion and debates ensue.
It's an ingenious way to go about telling the story, and the stories within the story will have the reading audience on the edge of their seats (pay close attention to the priest's tale).
Best of all, the stories are relatively short, so even if there comes the rare offering that doesn't quite tickle your funnybone, you can skip it guilt free and go on to the next treasure.
Reading about sin probably wasn't meant to be this much fun. But, oh, how sweet it is.