‘Ronald Rabbit Is a Dirty Old Man’ by Lawrence Block

Told through a whole series of short letters to former employers, ex-wives, lawyers and best friend, Ronald Rabbit Is a Dirty Old Man is lewd, occasionally crude, questionable in its sexual politics, maniacal – and occasionally very funny.

On being sacked from his editor-in-chief position of Ronald Rabbit’s Magazine for Boys and Girls, Larry Clark returns early to his shabby New York apartment – only to find his second wife, Fran, has left him for Mexico with best friend, Stephen. Having already spent the morning disabusing, by letter, his first wife (Lisa) of the receipt of the already late alimony, Clark is not in the best of places. But sanguine that he is (the sacking was a long time coming – lost in the corporate world of publishing, he’d spent several months doing nothing and was only discovered by chance due to his lack of business lunch expenses), he takes it all in his stride.

So much so, a series of letters are fired off to Fran, Lisa, Stephen, Lisa’s lawyer – even Clayton Finch, President of Whitestone Publishing. To add extra zest to the communications, Larry not only sporadically uses headed notepaper from his former company, but also has a habit of inserting copies of replies he receives. Thus Fran gets to read Larry’s reply to Stephen – and vice versa. Larry simply likes to ‘mess’ with people’s minds.

Less succesful is the ‘eroticism’ of Larry’s relationship with Rozanne and his sexual Nabokovian adventure fantasy with a group of Catholic convent educated schoolgirls. Of it’s time (1970s) but by today’s perspective, could be deemed verging on offensive.

It’s a short, quick and relatively easy read described by Isaac Azimov as either the funniest dirty book or the dirtiest funny book ever written! A guilty pleasure…

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