Book of the Week
Monday, Jun 17, 2019
Hey Booklovers! This week’s Blog will be the first of many that I’ll focus on one specific Author. Someone, of course, who is as interesting a person as their books are. I will start with the extremely prolific, extraordinarily successful, and mildly demented, Robert Bloch.
Robert Bloch, if you have not heard the name, certainly will know his most famous work, “Psycho”. Though I suppose if Alfred Hitchcock had not made the iconic film of the same name, he would be a lot less well known; at least to the majority of the reading public. For science fiction and horror fans, he churned out novels and short stories, one more thrilling than the next, over a career spanning seven decades. But it is not just his longevity that I find interesting. Rather it is the variety of tales he told and the quality of them. Though he started writing for the Pulps, frequently notorious for pumping out story after story for a hungry public and not necessarily worrying too much about the writing quality. Here, Bloch was one of several notable exceptions.
Robert Bloch was born in Chicago in 1917 and got his first interest in horror when he was only eight years old and saw 1925’s “The Phantom of the Opera”. He was scared crazy when Lon Chaney Sr. took off his mask but it fascinated him as well. Hi interest deepened when he started to read the pulp, Weird Science, and was great influenced by the “cosmic horror” stories of H.P. Lovecraft who will be a very interesting topic for a future blog. He started a correspondence with Lovecraft who encouraged Bloch’s writing and he was reward by selling his first stories to the publication “Marvel Tales” in 1934 at the ripe old age of 17. These were science fiction/horror stories, naturally influenced greatly by Lovecraft but he was also developing an interest in the psychological aspects of the characters which carried over into his later crime stories which included his take on Jack the Ripper.
Thus began a long and varied career of novels, anthologies as well as screenwriting which included writing for the “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” show in 60’s. Of course, Hitchcock already knew him from “Psycho”, which was published in 1959. Amazingly, Bloch, certainly not envisioning the success of the film, auctioned off the film rights for a measly $9500. But the notoriety certainly cemented his fame and reputation and Bloch continued to write and publish successfully until his death in 1994.
Though he wrote about 30 novels, (and hundreds of short stories), It was the psychology behind the mass murderer, Norman Bates, that petrified audiences of both the film and the book, and will certainly be what Bloch is remembered by.
Focusing more on the psychological/crime/horror genre, on offer are a few of Bloch’s anthologies as well as a stand-alone anthology that contains a classic Bloch psychological thriller. Click HERE for the list.
Thanks for reading and looking.
(some material sourced from Wikipedia & isfdb.org)