Robert Bloch Hits 99

Robert BlochRobert Bloch was born on April 5, 1917, in Chicago.  He passed away on September 23, 1994 in Los Angeles.

Although he will be remembered as the author of Psycho, and justifiably so, he was a writer of great range and depth.  While I’ve found his novels to be somewhat hit and miss, I’ve almost always enjoyed his short fiction.

Bloch was a member of the Lovecraft Circle and published in Weird Tales, but he quickly moved on to other types of fiction than Mythos pastiche.  (Not that there’s anything wrong with Bloch’s Mythos tales, but they were his early work.)  He appeared as Robert Blake in Lovecraft’s “The Haunter of the Dark.”

Bloch was adept at mystery, suspense, science fiction, and fantasy.  Bloch managed to infuse humor into some of the grimmest situations.  His story “That Hell-Bound Train” won the Hugo Award in 1959.  A favorite theme was Jack the Ripper, beginning with the classic “Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper”.

Bloch worked in Hollywood, and many of his stories reflect his experiences there.  He wrote two sequels to Psycho which had nothing to do with the movie sequels.  I’ve only read the first sequel, but it’s set almost entirely in Hollywood.  I wondered how many of the scenes in it were based on actual events.

Anyway, Bloch isn’t as well remembered these days as he should be.  Subterranean Press (among others) have published collections of his work in the years since his death, but those are starting to go out of print.

I’m going to read one or two of his stories this evening and toast his memory and literary legacy.

With the lights on and the doors locked, of course.


2 thoughts on “Robert Bloch Hits 99

  1. Fletcher Vredenburgh

    Disappointingly underappreciated these days. I loved rereading all his Mythos stories last year. I wish his short stories were available as ebooks. Some are the most blackly funny stories around.

    1. Keith West Post author

      Yeah, it would be nice if his work were available electronically rather than OOP paperbacks and collectible hardcovers, also mostly OOP. I really like the way he blended humor and horror. I read the first story in the Arkham collection Flowers From the Moon, “The Druidic Doom” from WT 1936, earlier. Robert M. Price opened his introduction by saying Bloch’s stories often had equal parts of both definitions of “Yuk”. That’s about the best way to describe his work. He could make you laugh at some of the most horrifying things.


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