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Lawrence Block ’60

Interviewed By: 
Christian Feuerstein '94

Update (June 8, 2010): For the first time in half a century, the entire original text of Campus Tramp, complete with classic cover art, is available for a limited time exclusively through This dashing retro trade paperback "Classic Edition" features a new afterword by Block and is available for paid preorder until August 1st, 2010. The Classic Edition will be a limited run printed to order, so no extras will be available after the order period has ended. However, a second, non-exclusive, open-run retail edition with a modern cover and a lower price will become available through in late August and may be found or ordered in bookstores nationwide in November.


Lawrence Block

Lawrence Block ’60 is an acclaimed and best-selling mystery author, best known for his fictional characters: private investigator Matthew Scudder and burglar-cum-bookstore owner Bernie Rhodenbarr. In 1993, the Mystery Writers of America named Block a Grand Master. Antiochians, however, know Block best for his 1959 pulp novel Campus Tramp, which was published under the nom de plume Andrew Shaw. A perennial favorite at Antioch College auctions, the novel follows first-year student Linda Shepard at "Clifton College." Names, locations and working conditions at the Record are all classically Antiochian, and the novel was the basis for the movie The Antioch Adventure.

Publisher Creeping Hemlock will soon issue a new retro paperback edition of Campus Tramp, and there will be information in future issues of The Independent on how to pre-order a copy.

What brought you to Antioch College? What was your major? Friends of my parents suggested it. I did visit the campus but don't know that that made much difference. I majored in English but probably took as many history courses as English. I couldn't quite see the point of studying literature. Now, all those years later, I'm not sure I see the point of studying history, either.

What's your favorite memory of being at Antioch?  The three months I spent editing the Record was a satisfying time in many respects. Hard to pick a favorite memory.

Was there a professor that made a huge impact on your life? Nolan Miller. I only had one class with him, his writing workshop, and it was most useful because of the time it gave one to write. You were supposed to bring something in every week. I was at Antioch two years and took his workshop my second year. Then I was off for a year, working at a literary agency; then I came back for a third year, and Nolan was my advisor, I guess, although I wasn't very good at dealing with advice. I liked him and would see him when I came back to the campus over the years. I wonder what the hell he wrote. He published a batch of stories and several novels in the 40s and 50s, then nothing, although he wrote every day - every day - with no particular thought of publication. I still don't know what to make of that.

Any stirring words of wisdom about the independence of Antioch College?
 High time! The idiot who created America's first college in metastasis really screwed things up, didn't he?

Why do you donate to Antioch College? I have, in a small way, occasionally. Why does anyone donate to anything? Guilt, I suspect, wedded to the delusion that one can make a difference, and that the difference one makes is worthwhile.