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Publisher's Summary

"This is either the funniest dirty book or the dirtiest funny book ever written!" (Isaac Asimov)

Somewhere around 1969, I began to grow dissatisfied with the underlying principle of most novels - that a disembodied voice in the first or third person was telling us a story. 

I liked the idea of novels passing themselves off as documents and drew inspiration from Mark Harris's Wake Up, Stupid and Sue Kaufman's Diary of a Mad Housewife, the first, ostensibly a collection of letters, the second, duh, a diary. (One could, of course, go back further, to the very beginnings of the English novel in the works of Daniel Defoe and Samuel Richardson.) I also found myself interested in writing with greater candor about sexual topics. I had knocked out dozens of soft-core paperbacks, and wanted to try anew with greater freedom and more realism.

I wrote three paperback original novels for Berkley under the pen name Jill Emerson, two of them in diary form, the third a presumed collaborative novel written in concert by the three viewpoint characters. These were fun to do and worked out well, and they led to Ronald Rabbit Is a Dirty Old Man. I riffed on the experience of my friend George Dickerson, who, like the novel's protagonist, had the magazine he was editing folded out from under him. 

George went on reporting to his empty office for several months, until they found him out when they noticed he'd stopped using his expense account. A man of many talents, George went on to serve as a reporter for Time Magazine for several years, then segued into a career as an actor; he had a principal role in Blue Velvet.) 

I spliced in an experience of my own, when I drank for hours at the Kettle of Fish on Macdougal Street, emerging only to be picked up by a carful of rich Catholic schoolgirls from the Academy of the Sacred Heart in Noroton, Connecticut, who essentially kidnapped me and drove me back to school with them.

These things happen.

I wrote the book in four furious days in an apartment on West 35th Street. I did so, thinking it would be another pseudonymous paperback, and that no doubt gave me the freedom to write it as I did; after it was written, the friends who read it liked it so much that I was persuaded to publish it as a hardcover novel, and under my own name. 

My agent sent it to Bernard Geis, a quirky publisher whose editor - Don Preston - loved the book. Bernie had offices on two floors in midtown Manhattan, and had installed a fireman's pole in case one wanted to get from 9 to 8 in a hurry. All I recall of Don is he told me to avoid seeing Carnal Knowledge, which he hated, and that I must hurry to see McCabe and Mrs.Miller, which he loved. Once I'd managed to sit through McCabe and Mrs. Miller, I knew I'd love Carnal Knowledge.

Around the time the story was published, Bernard Geis slid into chapter 11. I can't think this had a salutary effect on sales. Martin Levin in The New York Times book review pointed out that the book was written in the form of a series of letters, which was also the case with Richardson's Pamela, generally acknowledged to be the first English novel. And that, Mr. Levin said, was as much as he had to say on the subject. Well, that's fair.

I had the publisher send a copy to Isaac Asimov, whom I'd met a few times over the years. "That's either the funniest dirty book or the dirtiest funny book I've ever read," Isaac told me. "That would make a wonderful blurb," I said. "Over my dead body," he replied.

Well, okay. Isaac's been gone over 25 years now, and while I wish he were still around, he's not. And so, I'll just remember him fondly, and thank him for giving Ronald Rabbit Is a Dirty Old Man a helping hand, all these years later.

©1971, 2015 Lawrence Block (P)2020 Lawrence Block

What listeners say about Ronald Rabbit Is a Dirty Old Man

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Very funny

Ronald Rabbit is a Dirty Old Man is a dirty old book that is so cleverly put together and well written that it surprasses what it should be able to achieve. That it can be as ridiculously enjoyable as it is is a testament to Block’s ability as a writer. The scenarios are altogether vulgar, crude, and should realistically be off-putting at some point but everything comes together in a cleverly constructed, tremendously funny book. That it all works and that the should-be despicable protagonist’s antics are positively received by the reader is a master stroke in a book that from a lesser writer would have been long forgotten and possibly hated for some of its comic suggestions regarding the relationship between intimacy and loyalty. Ronald Rabbit is a Dirty Old Man does more than cross the border into brazen crudeness, it revels in it. It will make you laugh, it will trap you to the point that breezing through its relatively short page count is a must. Should you be squeamish or easily taken out of what you’re reading by blue content, this will likely not appeal to you, but for the rest of us, this is a rude, hilarious book that is well worth reading.

If you enjoy audiobooks, Theo Holland delivers his usual excellent work as narrator. It is more than easy to fall into the rhythm of his voice as he reads and in this, a comedy, the humour is never lost. Holland’s work makes this a good one to check out if you haven’t listened to a book before.

2 people found this helpful

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Hilarious

You'll want to make sure you use your headphones. Hilarious story written and set in a more free-wheeling era, so pack your sense of humor and don't assume you know everything that's going on until the end.

2 people found this helpful

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An Unexpected Pleasure

This book was so not what I expected it to be, and that is a delightful surprise!

I spent the night laughing at Larry's rich and varied correspondence with those he perceives as ruining his life. I could not stop listening until the audiobook had concluded.

This is one of Block's early works and shows the sense of humor that comes up in so much of his later writing. Further, it shows the clarity of style he always displays. While epistolary novels are not really my thing, this one rates right up there with the best of the genre. It actually reminded me in several instances of Lawrence Sterne's THE LIFE AND OPINIONS OF TRISTAM SHANDY in its rollicking ramble through the days following Larry's separation from both his wife and his employment on the same day. It also reminded me of Westlake's DANCING AZTECS (the quintessential New York novel), and Vonnegut's CAT'S CRADLE in terms of sheer craziness.

The only caveats I can see are that some folks might object to the "vulgar" language and the main character's attitudes towards women in general and his ex-wives in particular.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who needs a good laugh and appreciates having it served up with good writing along the way.

Oh, and if you are at all amenable to audiobooks, get this one as an audiobook! Theo Holland's narration just makes it better than plain print ever could.

1 person found this helpful

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Funny

This book is so funny. You will laugh so much at this book. His best friend runs off with his girl and he's writing letters about it . You need a head set because there is some rough parts in it. Theo Holland makes it good. i don't think it would have been any good with any other narriater. If my review was any help will you please click the helpful link. Thank you

1 person found this helpful

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Isaac Asimov was right about this book.

This audio book was recommended to me as a funny and dirty book.  Had someone explained the premise of this book I might have never listened to it, it’s that strange.  I am so glad I did though.  A letter writing campaign that includes his exes (Coworkers, women and friends) and the Mad Poet’s new friends.  The story threads its way through a hilarious and crude narrative with an “innocent” and evil manipulation that was fun to listen to.  I think my favorite letters were the ones that included his ex-boss.  The narration was well done and I enjoyed Theo Holland’s voices and soft southern draw which were very pleasing to the ears. 

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LB is the man!

Lawrence Block is one of my favorite writers, and as the cover says, it was a quite different novel, some of his letters had me howling and as usual Theo Holland did a fine job narrating....Recommend

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What did I just listen to???!!!!

I downloaded this book today and streamed it straight through. I couldn't stop listening. Were there some objectionable parts? Yup. Was this a great listen nonetheless? Yes indeedy

I don't usually like books that are told through letters. I always think you lose something in the two-dimensional world. That was soooo not the case with this book. I felt every emotion and saw every event (sometimes too clearly.) There were some salacious moments but some seriously funny one's as well. Our dirty old man was shrewd!!!

As for the narration, I think I've found a new favorite!!

This book is not for everybody but man, am I glad I found it. It made for a very engaging listen and I needed that today.

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wasn't for me

I don't know if I received a different book but, I could't find the funny in it.
I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review

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Screwball, (very x-rated), Hilarity!

Wow. I probably could leave that first word as my review, but for the sake of the laughs I will unpack it here. I did to know what to expect, even after reading the description of the book. Wow! A down on his luck writer is finally fired from the job he has not worked at for awhile, and he seems to go nuts, but delightfully so. The book, told both in narrative and then through letters sent to and from the author to his friend, his ex, his girlfriend, some way too young ladies he's "met," and more the dip into the character's psych, and the word play makes reading this book as much fun as watching an Ernst Lubitich comedy film (this is a compliment).

Speaking of compliment - narrator Theo Holland does it again. He understands "funny," the pacing the use of voice, inflection, and all. His artistry seems to life the story off the page. Mr. Holland never gets in the way, but always enhances the listing enjoyment.

I highly recommend two things - 1) this book, especially if you feel the need to laugh; 2) do NOT listen to this with other people around or at peak sound with your car window down! For the fainthearted - this is not for you, it is extremely x-rated in language and situational descriptions.

A win...or dare I merely say "Wow!"

1 person found this helpful

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A Nasty Little Treat

Nobody does bawdy humor quite like Lawrence Block. Ronald Rabbit is simply another example of a master having fun. Good times.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Norma Miles
  • 05-20-20

Are you my muse, Lisa? Are you amused, Lisa?

Lawrence Block's gloriously dirty comedy, Ronald Rabbit is a Dirty Old Man, is a novel written entirely in exchanges of letters from, and sometimes to, one Laurence Clarke (with a u and an e), a poet who singularly fails to write any poetry. Instead, he had been employed as editor of the Ronald Rabbit magazine for boys and girls which sadly failed after he had seen the publication of just two editions. Undaunted, he continued to report to his office each day for a further eight months on full pay before being discovered, and fired. On the very same day, he'd discovered his wife had left him to run off with his best friend taking most of their bank account funds, leaving debts and with his ex-wife still not having been sent the outstanding alimony owed. Poor man. What to do? Start writing letters, of course.

It is very hard not to be beguiled by these often very funny letters which follow the day of his dismissal. As they continue to flow between the various protagonists, they become increasingly overtly sexually descritptive, the language often crude, or rude - not for the shrinking violets. A delicious picture emerges of them all - the wives, the friend, the one time boss, his father in law, secretaries and a group of giggly teenage Convent girls in a car. Theo Holland reads it all with assured aplomb, the timbre of his voice a constantly pleasant tone, a good foil for the text.review

A lighthearted, often funny, read and a clever way to present a plot. This book was a complimentary download from FABC, freely gifted at the press of a button. My thanks to the rights holder who made it so easily available. Recommended to adults who enjoy a novel way of story telling, good writing - and are not averse to the use of both the c and f words liberally scattered through the descriptions of various sex acts

1 person found this helpful

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  • Rhona
  • 03-06-20

Unusual

I'm not really sure if books like this are written nowadays. Erotica that I see is always written by women for women. This book is the opposite. Don't expect any political correctness. Written with the author's usual humour.

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  • col2910
  • 02-23-20

Hilarious

Possibly a Marmite book for fans of Lawrence Block. Not a crime book, no mystery, some graphic sex, some vulgarity and a couldn't care less attitude on display by the main character.

There are plenty of sexual shenanigans during the course of the book allied with some riotously funny episodes, mostly taking the form of letters to various people....... a wife, an ex-wife, a best friend who has run off with the wife, a former employer, his secretary, his former father-in-law, his landlord and various Catholic schoolgirls of his acquaintance. Very probably we have a few more letters to others.

As per usual I mostly listened to this one on the commute to work. I was tickled pink and laughed like a drain and may have attracted some strange looks from fellow motorists sat in traffic around me. A real mood lifter and fun piece of writing.

Off-hand I can't actually remember the name of our main protagonist, though he is referred to as The Poet, by his adoring posse of schoolgirls. The plot as such is outlined above in Block's recounting of the origins of the story. I loved our man's demeanor, his honesty, his lack of tact, his way with words and his fecklessness.

Marriage, love, sex, employment, unemployment, money troubles, relationship break-ups, alcohol, sex (it does feature a fair bit), lawyers, a road trip or two, and the art of letter writing.

Definitely one that I will listen to again when I've exhausted all the other books in my Audible library.


As ever Theo Holland's narration is pitch perfect.

4.5 from 5

Read - (listened to) January, 2020
Published - 1971
Page count - 194 (3 hrs 59 mins)
Source - Audible download code from the author's assistant, though I do have a physical copy in my collection. I wonder if it's as funny when read as it is listened to?
Format - Audible

https://col2910.blogspot.com/2020/02/lawrence-block-ronald-rabbit-is-dirty.html

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  • Simon G
  • 02-15-20

Different

This wasn’t my usual type of book, but I’ll be honest I couldn’t stop listening to it! Actually really enjoyed it. It’s a series of communications interspersed with humour, sex and shenanigans

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  • Steve Roberts
  • 01-23-20

Naughty, clever and funny

This is a fantastic book filled with Block’s usual wit and wisdom. One of his erotic stories that is wonderfully wicked and often close to the, er, bone. Highly enjoyable.