RIP Larry L. King

December 22, 2012

Larry L. King, who just died at the age of 83, will forever be best-known as the author (co-author, technically) of the Broadway musical-turned-Hollywood-movie The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. I got to interview him in 1979, when Whorehouse launched its post-Broadway tour in Boston. I liked him tremendously and, as a young freelance writer, ate up everything he had to say about his own career as a magazine journalist and book author:

“Writing a book takes about a year and a half, plus to make money to live on you have to meet 14 to 16 magazine deadlines a year. Out of all those, maybe three or four are stories you care about, and the rest you don’t want your friends to read. The timetable is killing, and I’m glad to be out of it. I’m 50 years old, and I figure I’ve hustled enough…

“[In the theater] you work long hours when you’re shaping the work, and there’s the frustration of collaborators. But look at it this way. You write books at home by yourself. You get a bunch of reviews and modest sales. Maybe a handful of letters trickle in, most of them telling you that you misspelled a word on page 39. And then that book is over. It makes you crazy. I actually used to hang around bookstores trying to catch people buying my books. But it’s really a kick to stand in the back of a theater and watch people laugh at something you rote. It’s instant gratification! I can see why people thrive on it.”

You can read the whole interview online here.

LARRY KING

One Response to “RIP Larry L. King”

  1. SteveV Says:

    “[In the theater] you work long hours when you’re shaping the work, and there’s the frustration of collaborators. But look at it this way. You write books at home by yourself. You get a bunch of reviews and modest sales. Maybe a handful of letters trickle in, most of them telling you that you misspelled a word on page 39. And then that book is over. It makes you crazy. I actually used to hang around bookstores trying to catch people buying my books. But it’s really a kick to stand in the back of a theater and watch people laugh at something you rote. It’s instant gratification! I can see why people thrive on it.”

    Interesting quote. Wonder how he’d have felt if he’d had a best-selling book and a flop show, instead of the other way around. But even his least successful books are on the shelves of the Library of Congress, and maybe the NYPL. Suppose he’d written Mata Hari or Kelly instead of Whorehouse, what would now remain of all the work he once put into the show, except the unpublished manuscript and a passing reference in, say, Burns Mantle?


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