16 Blocks

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16 Blocks is a book by Starns Leeworthy as well as a 2008 film adaptation (UK version 16 Blokes) by Don't Say we didn't Warn You Brothers.


The author of 16 Blocks, contemplating suicide.

This novel, Leeworthy's first and last, was written in the cold age after the roaring 20's but before the bleating 40's. The original novel takes place in a grungy New York apartment, and essentially chronicles how terrible an author its author is. Like all pretentious prats, the writer refers to himself in the third person. The plot involves 16 writer's blocks that the author must overcome in order to succeed in writing a novel. As the original publishing had it, they are as follows: laziness, drinking, pride, disgust, inferiority complex, indecision, destruction of property, avarice, internal contradictions, negative reviews, character intimacy, disinterest, false apotheosis, and cyclic recursion. The novel devotes a chapter to each, each having a racy, maddening, and perfectly unreadable stream of consciousness style. The cyclic recursion chapter consists of what few themes there are in the novel being repeated ad infinitum in an infinite loop, and grew to equal the size of the other 15 chapters combined; it was ultimately cut by the editor (though a rough translation can see seen here.

Film adaptation[edit]

An up-and-coming screenwriter inherited the manuscript of the novel via his auntcle Melanernie. The editor initially cast it aside, but picked it up again after realising that, although he has no ideas, he can rip off other people's.

In retrospect, the idea was pure, claustrophobic genius: use a New York city block as a metaphor for each form of writer's block catalogued in the book. The screenwriter also introduced his first two characters: a drunk police officer named Jack Beauregard (representing the author himself) and an annoying, pidgin-talking black man named Skip Scrapalong (voiced by Howard Williams). The latter character represents the author's creation, of course. Duh.

In the movie, Beauregard must escort the criminal Skip to face trial at the courthouse (obviously representing the publishing house). The film hence evolved as a man-against-world crime drama; the crooked cops are all out to get him and his escort, and yet they survive. This cannot be interpreted meaningfully but in the framework of the original novel. In the end, Beauregard discovers that he himself is also guilty of crimes against insanity - a poignant statement about bad authors: both the creator and her creation share the same standard. In addition, he allows Skip to run away instead of going to court, suggesting that perhaps the novel was never fully realised, as is true with all novels that are self-referential. The incompleteness in Beauregard's heart placed blame in his soul and the soul of his tormentors, which as The Bard advises, were just whiffs of smoke, products of the writer's blocks themselves.

It has been speculated that the "dumptruck full of potatoes surrounded by cops" scene actually closely represents the "internal contradictions" phase, as a novel that does not hang together logically is bound, to fall apart. This is in contrast to most reviewers' opinions, which state that the scene is intended to map to the "decimation of property" element. Pedantic debate rages on, not least about how the film could possibly have been released in 2008 and analysed in 2004. All agree, however, that the gay innuendo scene, in which Skip smears imaginary bakery cake over his escort's face, is character intimacy.