Monday, November 13, 2017

Miscellaneous Monday—Number Twenty-one

IT WILL SOON be ten years since we lost Edward D. Hoch (1930-2008); just after he passed away, J. Madison Davis published this assessment of the lamentable state of the detective short story and why almost no one nowadays can do what Hoch did, make a living writing them.

"The Last Good Man: Edward D. Hoch and the World of
the Short Story."
By J. Madison Davis.
First appearance: World Literature Today, July 1, 2008.
Article (4 pages as a PDF).
Online at The Free (HERE).

Just a few snippets:

  "He was a Titan in another sense: a towering giant of the older gods. He was probably the last mystery-story writer, certainly the last major one."

  "Since the 1930s, the situation of the short story is much like that of the poem, having moved further and further to the peripheries of popular culture."

  "Ironically, perhaps Alfred Hitchcock, who built his very profitable television series around the best stories by authors he enjoyed—like Henry Slesar, Saki, Stanley Ellin, and Roald Dahl—contributed to the weakening of the short story by demonstrating how effectively such stories could be converted to the screen."

  "Although many people groan about the limited reading habits of Americans, writers in other countries are often under the impression that the situation for the short story is much better here than there. In other countries, the situa-tion is much the same or even grimmer."

  "It remains to be seen if the mystery short story can be revived on electronic media, but its inexpensiveness implies that supplying such a market might never be a way to make a living."

  "The mystery short story is unlikely to disappear, even if it does not find a rebirth, but the likelihood of short-story specialists like Ed Hoch ever gracing the mystery scene again seems sadly unlikely, and if they do, no one will grace it as well as Ed did."

- A few years before Hoch died, Steve Lewis at Mystery*File interviewed him (HERE); Hoch also contributed a short blog post to Criminal Brief, "Why the Short Story?" (HERE); see also Steve Steinbock's tribute to Hoch (HERE); the Wikipedia article (HERE); the GAD Wiki (HERE), (HERE), and (HERE); and The Passing Tramp (HERE).
- The Locked Room Mystery megasite has several pages devoted to Hoch (HERE), (HERE), (HERE), and (HERE).
- Occasionally Ed Hoch would wander into science fiction/fantasy (SFF); see (HERE) for more.
- Hoch picked up an Edgar for "The Oblong Room" (HERE).
- With few exceptions, Hoch's brilliant stories have been largely ignored by Hollywood; see "Hoch and Tinseltown" (HERE).
- Podcasts of two of Hoch's Sam Hawthorne mysteries are still online: "The Problem of the Covered Bridge" (HERE) and "The Problem of the Old Gristmill" (HERE).

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