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Where does Thirty rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?
About mid-way, but I'm choosy what I listen to so don't get many duds.
If you’ve listened to books by Lawrence Block before, how does this one compare?
It's an early work as isn't as crafted as some later pieces but it's fun.
Which character – as performed by Emily Beresford – was your favourite?
The main character takes centre stage and dominates it - her.
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
Not that kind of book, to be honest.
Any additional comments?
I’m a big fan of LB and have read a large number of his books – well, there’s a lot to read and I’m still only about half way through his total output. He’s best known for his New York based crime fiction, with his Matt Scudder series being widely regarded as one of the best out there. But he’s a gifted writer and he’s produced work outside of this genre too, in the course of a long career. Recently, some of his very early pieces have been made available, after having been long out of print, and although most are not of the quality of his most recent novels they are in themselves interesting and entertaining. It’s possible to glimpse the promise of what’s to come and to admire, even in these stories, his ability to put words together in a style that few can match.
So when offered the chance to listen to this ambiguously titled story on audiobook (I’m a huge advocate of listening to others do the reading work for me) I didn’t hesitate. In the guise of one of his pseudonyms, this erotic romp is about as far from Scudder as you can get! It tracks the adventures of a 29 year old woman who liberates herself from an unsuccessful marriage to enjoy the full mix of pleasures available in latter day NYC. This turns out to be a downward spiral but there’s no doubting the fun she has along the way.
It’s a short but engaging tale and I feel all the better for spending a few hours in its company.
What made the experience of listening to Thirty the most enjoyable?
The book was done as a journal, so hearing the entries in the protagonist's voice made it feel as if you were in her head.
What was one of the most memorable moments of Thirty?
When she decides to leave her husband, after bedding the delivery boy.
What about Emily Beresford’s performance did you like?
Her voice was perfect for the POV character.
Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
I did not have an extreme reaction to the book. Block's work is always well-written, with characters that ring true.
Any additional comments?
Again, I think that doing this particular book as an audiobook was an excellent idea, because it gave me more of a sense of being in the protagonist's head.
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In reading Lawrence Block's crime fiction, I have to come to expect his proficiency in highlighting a character's desperation, his/her frailty. Turns out he's been doing that under pen names as well, as evidenced by this erotic novel originally published under the name Jill Emerson.
With Janet, a twenty-nine year old wife, Block shows a desperation of a life not yet lived. Oh, she has the loving husband and the house and the comfortable life, but it absent of passion. And as she nears her thirtieth birthday, desperation sets it. This can't be all there is. Oh no, it is not.
It begins with a brief, almost spontaneous encounter with a young man that she invited into her bed, and after that Janet's life is irrevocably altered. She sees a way out of her dull existence, leaves her husband, drains their savings, and moves to New York. From there, her experiences become more fiery, and skirt towards even manic.
Emily Beresford offers a pitch-perfect narration through the book, as Block has it written as a series of diary entires. Emily quite capably captures the prim and proper bourgeoisie, continually tempered by her obsessions, self-doubt, and fear with each subsequent diary entry.
Erotic at its core, it also offers a fair share of suspense when Janet becomes a bit overwhelmed with at least one of her encounters. It might feel a bit dated, but heck, so did 'Mad Men' on AMC and that was well-received.