"This is either the funniest dirty book or the dirtiest funny book ever written!" - Isaac Asimov
Blocks says, "Somewhere around 1969 I began to grow dissatisfied with the underlying principle of most novels---that a disembodied voice in the first or third person was telling us a story. I liked the idea of novels passing themselves off as documents, and drew inspiration from Mark Harris's WAKE UP, STUPID, and Sue Kaufman's DIARY OF A MAD HOUSEWIFE, the first ostensibly a collection of letters, the second, duh, a diary.
I also found myself interested in writing with greater candor about sexual topics. I had knocked out dozens of soft-core paperbacks, and wanted to try anew with greater freedom and more realism.
I wrote three paperback original novels for Berkley under the pen name Jill Emerson, two of them in diary form, the third a presumed collaborative novel written in concert by the three viewpoint characters. These were fun to do and worked out well, and they led to RONALD RABBIT IS A DIRTY OLD MAN. I riffed on the experience of my friend George Dickerson, who like the novel's protagonist had the magazine he was editing folded out from under him; George went on reporting to his empty office for several months, until they found him out when they noticed he'd stopped using his expense account. I spliced in an experience of my own, when I drank for hours at the Kettle of Fish on Macdougal Street, emerging only to be picked up by a carful of rich Catholic schoolgirls from the Academy of the Sacred Heart in Noroton, Connecticut, who essentially kidnapped me and drove me back to school with them.These things happen.
I wrote the book in four furious days in an apartment on West 35th Street. I did so thinking it would be another pseudonymous paperback, and that no doubt gave me the freedom to write it as I did; after it was written, the friends who read it liked it so much that I was persuaded to publish it as a hardcover novel, and under my own name.
I had the publisher send a copy to Isaac Asimov, whom I'd met a few times over the years. "That's either the funniest dirty book or the dirtiest funny book I've ever read," Isaac told me. "That would make a wonderful blurb," I said. "Over my dead body," he replied.
Well, okay. Isaac's been gone over 25 years now, and while I wish he were still around, he's not. And so I'll just remember him fondly, and thank him for giving Ronald Rabbit is a Dirty Old Man a helping hand, all these years later.