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Matt Scudder stands as one of the most influential private eyes in the genre. Lawrence Block dropped his haunted, lapsed Catholic, alcoholic unlicensed investigator in a seventies and eighties New York, telling of his excursions into the darkest parts of the city and the human condition in blunt and poetic Lou Reed fashion.The books influenced a generation of crime writer. Block has returned to his creation, adding to some details, and correcting some as he looks at the earlier part of his life in The Autobiography Of Matthew Scudder.

He frames the idea of the eighty-something Scudder writing down parts of his life that the books didn't get. He establishes his upbringing with a mother who became distant due to a miscarriage and a father who carried subtle signs of alcoholism. We go through the early years. We go through a few early jobs and the courtship of his wife, Anita. The book comes more into focus when Matt finds what appears to be his calling as a policeman.

At the center of his life in the N.Y.P.D is is his relationship with his first partner Vince Mahaffey. vince shows him the ropes of the job, including the sketchier parts when it come to cutting corners and what is passable graft. Many of his lessons come from Vince teaching him how to writes a report and knowing what to include and not include. Vince Scudder's ability yo write reports to them getting into plain clothes. It also plays into one of the the themes about truth in storytelling.

The book has fun with it's meta set up, with Scudder relationship to the writer, Lawrence Block who uses him for books. he mentions what Block left out or changed, explaining how Block writes fiction. He uses this to a dramatic effect when setting things straight on the events that lead to the book A Ticket To The Boneyard. He also talks about how Block got upset when reading a draft of this, that he didn't share some these parts of his life with him earlier.

Scudder (or Block) also view alcohol taking over his life in a subtle way. There are no dramatic triggers, just a slow realization of how he can escape from life through it and how more drinking creates more problems to escape from. Much like the accidental shooting that darkened his life, Scudder owns up to it, but keeps it at a distance. Both are a manner to survive.

The Autobiography Of Matthew Scudder is less and origin story of Scudder and his world as it is of his world view. We meet the people and experience some of the early events that created his outlook. You might not get to know Matthew Scudder, but you'll get a better idea of where he comes from.


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