Las Vegas Valley, Nevada
Charles Bock (born 1969) is an American writer whose debut 2008 novel Beautiful Children (published by Random House) was selected by The New York Times as a Notable Book of the Year for 2008, and won the 2009 Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Bock was born and raised in Las Vegas, which served as the setting for Beautiful Children. He comes from a family of pawnbrokers who've operated pawn shops in Downtown Las Vegas for more than thirty years. On his website, he reflects upon his upbringing as a source of inspiration for the novel:
"Sometimes, when my siblings and I were little, my parents, for various reasons, used to have us stay in the back of the shop. This would be after school or during summer vacation, when there wasn’t summer camp, or they didn’t have anybody to watch over us and we were too small to be alone. We’d occupy our time with sodas from a nearby casino’s gift shop, comic books, and a television that got wavy reception, and we’d do small chores, rolling coins or filing the previous day’s pawn tickets. The store often had a line of people waiting to pawn their goods, local customers who worked in casinos and also spent all their spare time playing blackjack and slot machines, and also tourists who had blown all their cash, and maybe their plane tickets home, and now were desperate, and hung over, and needed loans on their wedding rings, so they could go back into the casinos and win back their money. I’d sometimes stare out of the back of the store and watch the people in line and take in their faces. Lots of times my parents would be put in the position of having to tell these people that their wedding ring was only worth a fraction of what they’d paid for it, or that, say, the diamonds in that ring were brown and flawed. From the back of the store, I’d watch as the customers exploded and called my parents dirty Jews and cursed at them and threatened them at the top of their lungs. It’s impossible in situations like that not to feel for everybody involved — to be horrified, sure, but more than that, to be saddened by the spectacle, to want so much more than that out of life for everyone."
Bock is a 2009 recipient of the Silver Pen Award (Nevada Writers Hall of Fame), which was established in 1996 to recognize mid-career writers who have already shown substantial achievement.
In 2009, Bock's first wife, Diana Colbert, was diagnosed with leukemia. The couple's daughter, Lily Star, was six months old at the time. Following a pair of bone marrow transplants, Diana Colbert died in December 2011, three days before Lily Star's third birthday. He subsequently married writer Leslie Jamison, with whom he has a daughter. They are no longer married, and share custody of their daughter.
Bock's first novel Beautiful Children is about the interwoven lives of several characters in Las Vegas. The story focuses on the issue of homeless teenage runaways. Young Newell has A.D.D. and his overbearing mother Lorraine is not too keen on him hanging out with his older friend Kenny. The Girl With the Shaved Head is looking to fit in with some questionable characters that she just met on the Las Vegas Strip. Pony Boy has not always been the best boyfriend and lover to his stripper girlfriend Cheri. Comic book writer Bing Beiderbixxe is just in Vegas for the weekend. These characters' lives intersect in this unflinching tale about lost innocence.
Alice & Oliver
- "100 Notable Books of 2008". The New York Times. December 7, 2008.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-09-12. Retrieved 2010-09-09.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction
- "A few words from Charles". Beautifulchildren.net. Retrieved 2007-11-08.
- "Nevada Writers Hall of Fame: Silver Pen Award". 2010-06-05. Retrieved 2018-03-21.
- Italie, Hillel (2011-12-08). "Diana Colbert, wife of author Charles Bock, dies". Boston.com. Retrieved 2018-03-21.
- "The Rumpus Interview with Charles Bock". The Rumpus.net. 2016-04-22. Retrieved 2018-10-24.
- "We Need To Talk About Alice and Oliver – Electric Literature". Electric Literature. 2016-07-08. Retrieved 2018-10-24.
- What Happened in Vegas Stayed in His Novel - The New York Times Sunday Magazine, January 27, 2008
- "Beautiful Children" Book Review, Cover, The New York Times Book Review
- "Depravity's Rainbow" - The New Republic
- Beautiful Children Book Review - Entertainment Weekly
- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A young runaway descends into the hellacious lost world of modern America - Washington Post
- Interview with Bock published in Las Vegas Weekly, November 1, 2007
- Esquire's List of 100 hot things for 2008, mentions Beautiful Children
- Review of Beautiful Children from Publishers Weekly
- BeautifulChildren.net Official website for Beautiful Children
- Rake's Progress, Harper's Magazine, 3/2013 
- For Love or Money, Harper's Magazine, 6/2011 
- Joint Ventures, Harper's Magazine, September 2015