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Threesome by Lawrence Block — Writing as Jill Emerson {An Excerpt}

Threesome by Lawrence Block — Writing as Jill Emerson {An Excerpt}

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Published by OpenRoadMedia
There’s more than one side to every story—especially in a threesome
There’s more than one side to every story—especially in a threesome

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Published by: OpenRoadMedia on Feb 25, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/14/2014

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PART ONE
 
 
THREESOMEPROLOGUE, PREFACE, OR WHAT YOU WILL…
Once upon a time, twenty-four Long Island newpapermen decided to find out if theycould write a worse book than Jacqueline What’s-Her-Name. Each sat down and wrote achapter, either all at once or one at a time, and while the result of all of this self-indulgence may not have been worse than Valley of the Whatsits, it certainly belonged inthe same ballpark. The twenty-four Long Island newspapermen then took a moderatelyattractive Long Island housewife and put her face on the back cover. Next they took aravishing model and put her bare behind on the front cover.Then they published the book, and it at once began to sell like pussy at a Rotaryconvention. And just as sales threatened to peak, word of their great coup circulated, andthe public whooped with glee and hurried to find out what a purposely bad book would be like. What it was like, of course, was all the unintentionally bad books, but by the timeConstant Reader found this out, he already owned the book and couldn’t very well returnit.So what does this All-American success story have to do with us?Everything.It was this very literary hoax which we three sat discussing a couple of nights ago. Wethree are Harry and Priss and Rhoda. Harry is Harold Kapp. You’ve seen his cartoonseverywhere, but you don’t know who he is because nobody remembers cartoonists,except for the one or two everybody remembers. This is one of the banes of Harry’sexistence.Priss is Priscilla Rountree Kapp. She is Harry’s wife, and another of the banes of hisexistence.Rhoda is Rhoda Muir, which is me. Sitting here, at this kitchen table, typing this.Typing it far more slowly, I might add, than you are reading it, and that holds even if you’re a lip-mover. This is harder work than I expected. Anyway, this is me, Rhoda Muir,divorcee and dilettante-of-all-trades, and I suppose another bane of Harry’s etc... Youcould put me down as a friend of the family.We were sitting in the cozy Kapp living room, watching a fire die in the fireplace andeach of us waiting for someone else to abandon his or her drink long enough to throw alog on it—on the fire, dummy, not on the drink. And after we had discussed andcondemned the Long Island newspapermen, the housewife on the back cover, the publisher, the reading public, and in fact everything connected with the aforementioned book except the demurely dimpled behind on its front cover, and after the conversationhad died down rather like the fire and each of us had gone off in a huddle with privatethoughts, I said,“You know, we could do something like that.”“Like what?”“Naked Came the Clyde. A bestseller.”Priss made one of her faces at me, at once narrowing her eyes and raising her eyebrows.I think the operative adjective is querulous. Harry gazed off into the middle distance,either exploring the possibilities or gathering wool.Priss said,
 
 “We’re not writers, love.”“Neither were those twenty-four guys.”“They were newspapermen.”“Doesn’t count,” Harry said. “A newspaperman is just a schmuck who covers highschool track meets and then spells everybody’s name wrong.”“That off the top of your head?”“Uh-huh.”“It’s not bad,” Priss said. “Actually, one of us sort of is a writer. Rho wrote tons of things at school. And you’ve written things since then, haven’t you?”“I’ve begun things.”“Well begun,” said Harry, “is half done.”“I think the line about the newspapermen has more of a feeling of originality to it,” Itold him. “Anyway, nothing I’ve started has been well begun. Or at least not well enough begun so as to ever be finished. Though some of them were promising. But that’s thewhole point, don’t you see?”They didn’t see.“I think you would have to be really a writer or else very damned dogged to write awhole book. Books are long. You can’t just dash them off in odd moments like greetingcard verse.”“Or like cartoons,” Harry put in.I ignored this. “But almost anyone,” I went on, “could write a chapter.”“So?”“And when you’ve got enough chapters,” I continued, “you’ve got yourself a book.”“There are three of us,” Priss said.“So?”“So we would need twenty-one more newspapermen. Or cartoonists, or writers, or six-day bike racers or anything.”“Not if we each write enough chapters.”“You mean we each write a third of a book?”“Well, yes, but a chapter at a time.”“Of course it would be a chapter at a time, Rho. It would also be a page at a time, asentence at a time, a word at a—”I said, “No, you’re missing the point. One of us writes a chapter, then another writesone, then the third, and back and forth like that until a book results. That way nobody gets bogged down in the middle of a long lonely stretch of monotony.”“Except the poor reader,” said Harry.I ignored this, too. I finished my drink and rattled its ice cubes until Harry grunted tohis feet and poured Scotch all over them. (The ice cubes, not his feet. Why do I keepdoing that? Not even at the end of the first chapter and already I’m clicking along like theBad Examples section of an eighth-grade grammar text.) I sipped my drink. Harry pouredmore for himself, and for Priss. Priss suggested that while he was up he throw a log onthe fire. He said something inaudible, which was probably just as well, and threw a logon the fire.I said, “I think it would be a lot of fun, actually. Not to say interesting and absorbing. Not to say potentially profitable, if we can find some clown to publish it.”

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