Monday, November 12, 2012

Noircon 2012: More Block, Kent Harrington, ratlines in crime fiction

I don't remember how the subject came up, but Lawrence Block turned the talk to crime-fiction conferences during Saturday's keynote Noircon interview. During a panel at one such convention, Block told interviewer Duane Swierczynski, someone asked him:
"How are you going to spend eternity? I thought, `On a fucking panel.'"
Later, Block was asked about the genesis of his early paperback book about a successful assassination plot against Fidel Castro (republished decades later by Hard Case Crime as Killing Castro). In 1961, Block said, a third-rate paperback publisher ("He aspired to be second-rate") commissioned a quickie biography of Elizabeth Taylor from Donald Westlake, figuring Taylor was not long for the world. Then he asked Block for a similar book about Castro, figuring to capitalize on Castro's inevitable and imminent ouster.
"I never met" the publisher, Block said, "and I've always been grateful for that. ... alav ha-shalom, he's been dead for years, Elizabeth Taylor hung on until recently, and Castro, God love him, is still alive."
***
Kent Harrington, making it through his Sunday morning Noircon session in shape no better or worse than most of his audience, said he wanted his new novel, The Rat Machine, “to be a big novel but in the High Pulp style.”

The novel takes its title from ratlines, the escape routes set up for Nazis fleeing Europe at the end of World War II. Harrington described the book as a thriller about the importation of Nazis into the United States, the role allocated to the Sicilian Mafia in the international heroin trade in return for its cooperation in stamping out Communists and socialists, and the reverberations to this day of those decisions.

Stuart Neville’s next novel will be called Ratlines, and its story includes the Irish government’s embrace of Nazis after the war and its ripple effect in the present day. Asked if he thought more crime writers might take up the theme, Harrington, who called himself a moral if not a political crime novelist, said, “I hope so.”

© Peter Rozovsky 2012

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9 Comments:

Blogger Todd Mason said...

Thanks! I'm only sorry I couldn't make NoirCon...nor the simultaneous PhilCon...

November 12, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks for the note. The scheduling would have kept fans of both crime and fantasy/sci fi/horror busy scooting back and forth across the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.

November 12, 2012  
Blogger Todd Mason said...

A terrifying concept by itself. My own physical state kept me from driving even the less than a mile to the Crowne Plaza, where the PhilCon took place...

November 12, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Not only that, but Murder and Mayhem in Muskego happened the same weekend. I went to that one year and had a highly enjoyable time. But nothing beats Noircon.

November 12, 2012  
Blogger Lou Boxer said...

Thank you Peter. Your talk on noir music was inspiring as were your probing questions. Always a pleasure to hear your insight into noir!

November 13, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

This Noircon could keep me posting for weeks. I haven't mentioned Wesley Stace or Southern noir or Jewish noir or Otto Penzler yet. I'll also have to put up at least one post about the Noircon social scene, which included any number of surprising revelations.

Thanks for another superb job. You're the king of cons.

November 13, 2012  
Blogger Kelly Robinson said...

The Block anecdotes are solid gold. 'On a fucking panel' gave me a good giggle this morning.

November 16, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thursday's post links to Block's acceptance speech for an award he won at Noircon. I particularly enjoyed his story about aspirin, snuff, and Coca-Cola.

November 16, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

And lo, here’s a clip from the Block interview.

November 16, 2012  

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