Tuesday 2 June 2020



Jill Emerson, whose first three works were gentle explorations of the lesbian experience, took a sharp turn toward candor in Thirty, her first book for Berkley.

As I’ve explained in the book description for that novel, around the time Berkley came calling (via my agent) I’d become disenchanted with the whole notion of fiction recounted by some disembodied third- or first-person narrator. It struck me as artificial, and my response was to pile artifice upon artifice and produce a novel in the guise of an actual document.   

In Thirty, the novel pretended to be a diary. That worked fine, and the resultant narrative proved at once challenging and effortless to sustain. I enjoyed writing it, Berkley enjoyed publishing it - and they wanted something else. What they got in Threesome was a novel pretending to be a novel.  

The premise, as you’ll see, is that the book has been written by its three main characters, Harry and Rhoda and Priss, in the form of a lightly fictionalized chronicle of their own life as a menage a trois. They set about writing alternate chapters - and, reading one another’s work as they go along, they learn things they hadn’t known, and one thing leads to another, and - I think the phrase we want is tour de force, and how nice to be able to use it in the same book description as menage a trois. 

The book was also about as much fun as I’ve ever had while sitting at a typewriter.

Another day, another audible outing with an early pseudonymously published Lawrence Block erotica book from 50 years ago.

Fun was had, but not one to live too long in the memory banks I don't think.

A two become three and the relationship between the man, his wife and her old college friend develops into something more than just sex.

Feelings, secrets, sexuality, relationships, boundaries, inhibitions, desires, fantasies, experimentation and exploration, lesbianism, infidelity, marriage, openness, menage a trois, outsiders, city trips, college, pregnancy, emotional ties and bonds.

I enjoyed it as far as it went. Some of the scenes had humour and were funny. I guess I might be a bit of an old stick in the mud, but I'm more of a one woman man and elements of their behaviour doesn't particularly hold much attraction for me. I'm not judging - each to their own. Consenting adults and all that and no one was doing anything they didn't want to.

Lawrence Block as has been shown by many other books I've read from him is a really versatile and entertaining writer. He can certainly write a sizzling sex scene.

Interesting narration with a couple of different voices for the male and female roles of the fictional novel they were penning.

3 from 5

Read - (listened to) May, 2020
Published - 1970
Page count - 218 (4 hrs 27 mins)
Source - Audible download code received from David, one of the author's assistants
Format - Audible


  1. It really is interesting to hear about Block's early work, Col. Even then, he had a fascinating way of looking at writing, the process of it, and the sort of books he wanted to write. I give credit to him for not wanting to do 'what everyone else does.' Not sure if I'd dive eagerly into this, but that's OK; it still shows a bit of his career as a writer.

    1. Margot, there's probably a lot more that he's written that holds more appeal for you I think.

  2. I am glad you are exploring Block's early books, but I am going to stick with trying to read his more recent books.

    1. I am enjoying them even if the quality is a bit uneven. I can't blame you for sticking to the later ones.

  3. Such varied books from Block! I am almost tempted by this - not usually a big fan of erotica, but I feel very curious as to how he would do it...

  4. Moira, you might have a few giggles with this one.