Sunday, October 4, 2020

Review: College for Sinners

College for Sinners College for Sinners by Lawrence Block
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Another one of the sleaze books Lawrence Block wrote under the Andrew Shaw byline for Nightstand Books. The plot - yes, there is one - follows David Forrestor (Trevor in the Nightstand edition, but Forrestor in the eBook edition Block released as part of his Classic Erotica series) from the start of his sophomore year at college until he suddenly drops out following a period during which he questioned just about every aspect of his life. In the meantime, there's a parallel plot following David's experience with The Libertines - a small campus sex club; he traverses a path from recruitment to initiation to eager participant, from awkwardness to abandon to disgust, and finally, resignation. The latter plot reveals the real purpose of the book: sex scenes, lots of them. Although this was published in 1960 during the censorship era, it leans more explicit, with a caveat: it has long realistic descriptions of foreplay, but once the activity goes further, the language becomes euphemistic, or worse, as description is replaced with phrases such as "it got better and better and better." Block delivers on all the sex scenes as required, but give him credit for also layering in some significant character development. Perhaps in some way it parallels Block's college experience at Antioch. In any case, he does capture the typical tumult when thoughts of certainty and uncertainty about one's life are commingled. That's probably more depth than the typical Nightstand reader wanted to absorb.

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