RARA-AVIS: Re: robert bloch based norman bates on woolrich?

From: foxbrick ( foxbrick@yahoo.com)
Date: 10 Feb 2008

--- In rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com, sonny <sforstater@...> wrote:
> cool. i began thinking about it after i had wrote and sent that.
> i think of bloch as horror, but psycho certainly starts off as
> and only then enters the realm of horror. but it never leaves
crime. is
> there horror/noir?

Yes, of course, to answer your last question here first...I recently mentioned one of the key stories in modern horror, Fritz Leiber's "Smoke Ghost," which is the essence of noir (and it's notable that Leiber and Bloch were the two most important of the junior members of the "Lovecraft Circle" of corresponding writers and friends...Bloch and Leiber were those who certainly, among other work, took what Lovecraft had pioneered and refined it. Henry Kuttner did so as well, albeit less fruitfully (his most important work was in other modes), and I don't believe he was ever a part of the "Circle"--Leiber had barely "joined" when HPL died).

While Bloch probably did know something of Woolrich's predicament, Bloch stated that he based much of Norman Bates, physically and in temperament, upon the film historian and magazine-editor/publisher Calvin Thomas Beck, who also had what might be termed an unusual relation with his mother.

And as Mario noted, much of Bloch's work is indeed hardboiled, and even more of it is noirish...for example, his novel, THE KIDNAPPER, will do by any reasonable standard for this list, as would NIGHT/WORLD. I might even suggest a Bloch month. As the first to consistently introduce modern idiom and concerns (as opposed to neo- Gothic and similar modes) into pulp horror, he's certainly comparable to Hammett and Hemingway and Robert Heinlein to that extent, at least, and like Woolrich would tend to play around the edges of horror and naturalistic suspense fiction in the 1940s onward.

Todd Mason

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