No Score (book #1 in the Chip Harrison series)
By Lawrence Block; Read by Gregory Gorton
6 Cassettes – Approx. 5 Hours 30 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Chivers Audio
Themes: / Crime / Sex / Quest / Pornography / Chicago /
It is a mystery why a street-smart young man like Chip Harrison has to resort to elaborate plans to attract a young woman like Francine. But someone turns Chip’s dream into a nightmare of danger. Chip has to act fast and furiously in a sizzling and suspenseful adventure that only Edgar Award-winning Lawrence Block could have written. Chip Harrison rightfully takes his place beside Block’s best known characters.
Seventeen year old Chip Harrison is a virgin. Francine, the narcissistic sexpot sitting on his bed, is two years older than Chip. All that stands between Chip and Francine is a tight yellow sweater and a green plaid skirt. Chip’s been preparing for this situation for a while now. He’s read all the right books, practiced all his moves on other girls, and now it’s all actually going to happen! And then, just as the deed is about to be done, a man with a gun walks in and shoots poor Chip! That’s chapter one. In chapter two Chip fills in some details about what happened before that – he’s an orphan, the son of a pair of con-parents. With no funds in the bank and not enough game on the basketball court. Poor Chip was kicked out of his prep school just a couple of months shy of graduation! Now, with little more than the clothes on his back, Chip Harrison has to meet and lay the girl of his dreams – the question is, will he get to do it? Or will he die trying?
Yep, that’s it! The whole novel is basically one kid’s quest to make it with a beautiful girl, almost any beautiful girl will do. As such, No Score probably the slimmest connection to mystery and crime of any book I’ve ever reviewed for SFFaudio. Later novels in the Chip Harrison series actually are genuine mysteries (they are all parody/homages to Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe mysteries in fact). Though later books in the series are more properly mystery novels, like No Score they all share Chip’s enthusiasm and all the juvenile charm he brings to the telling. Lawrence Block is probably my favourite writer of first person perspective fiction. His sentences are chock full of wry humor and quick wit. When you pair his terrific writing with a capable narrator the results are explosively good. This is just such a novel and just such a pairing. While there’s not more than one or two actual jokes in No Score the laughs are all out loud and come every few minutes. I sure wish narrator Gregory Gorton was still recording audiobooks. He is a terrific performer with a wide range. In No Score he performs as Chip, a chipper and horny young man, Gregor, a fortyish immigrant from an unnamed Balkan country, and several sexy women in a terrific falsetto.
Posted by Jesse Willis
4 thoughts to “Aural Noir review of No Score by Lawrence Block”
Chivers was always putting out good audiobooks. They even looked like they were going to be good, and they produced a lot of comedy stuff. They got bought out by the BBC, so you do have a decent chance of hearing their books on BBC7.
I see from his homepage that Mr. Gorton is still recording audiobooks, and has in fact done 450 of them. It’s just that, at the moment, you have to be blind and getting books from the Library of Congress to take advantage of his skills.
Apparently you don’t write to them anymore. They’ve got downloads available, and there are local distributing libraries, but the program’s been vastly decentralized since my great-grandfather had the need to use it. (It used to be like Netflix — you were always ordering wishlists of books, getting albums through the mail, and then mailing them back.)
Even though it says it was published in 1999, I first read this book, and its sequel in 1972. That’s why it has only the slimmest connection to the mystery genre, because it’s not. It was written as a horny-teen coming of age comedy, and then turned into a mystery series in the third book of the series. As a horny teen myself in 1972, I loved this book and would have sworn it was a true story since Lawrence Block published it using the main character’s name, Chip Harrison. I was very happy when it was republished, even as a mystery, and I could read it again.Decades later, the book still holds up.
Thanks Jim! The 1999 date is only for the audiobook publication. :D