"Almost Perfect"

by Lawrence Block

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“Almost Perfect” is a baseball story. It was written at the invitation of Otto Penzler, who wanted it for an anthology—but he didn’t get to publish it. Alice K. Turner, as incisive a reader as I’ve ever known, was Playboy’s Fiction Editor at the time, and I always gave her first look at anything I wrote. She snapped it up, and I had to choose between disappointing Otto and missing out on a sale to Playboy.

Talk about your no–brainers. The story appeared in Playboy, and in due course I tucked it into my omnibus collection, Enough Rope.

My own favorite baseball stories are all novels. Bernard Malamud’s The Natural is a critical favorite, and justly so, but there are four other books I like even better. Three are by Mark Harris—The Southpaw and its two sequels, Bang the Drum Slowly and A Ticket For a Seamstitch. (Harris wrote a fourth novel about the same character toward the end of his life, and it can be charitably described as disappointing.) And Charles Einstein’s The Only Game in Town is a book I’ve reread several times, with undiminishing enjoyment. Malamud’s novel’s in print; the others are not, but once can find them readily and reasonably in the aftermarket.

Back to Otto. He was disheartened when he heard I wasn’t going to be able to give him a story after all. “So write another story,” he said. “There’s plenty of time. A baseball story, with a crime in it.”

But, I said, I didn’t have an idea.

A pause. “Well,” he said gently, “that’s never stopped you in the past…”

So when his anthology, Murderer’s Row, appeared, it contained a story of mine called “Keller’s Designated Hitter.” But that’s another story…

Product Details

BN ID: 2940012847867
Publisher: Lawrence Block
Publication date: 07/11/2011
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 19 KB

About the Author

Lawrence Block has been writing award-winning mystery and suspense fiction for half a century. His most recent novels are A DROP OF THE HARD STUFF, featuring Matthew Scudder, and GETTING OFF, starring a very naughty young woman. Several of his books have been filmed, although not terribly well. He's well known for his books for writers, including the classic TELLING LIES FOR FUN & PROFIT, and THE LIAR'S BIBLE. In addition to prose works, he has written episodic television (TILT!) and the Wong Kar-wai film, MY BLUEBERRY NIGHTS. He is a modest and humble fellow, although you would never guess as much from this biographical note.

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