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The Unofficial Robert Bloch Website

Essays

Robert Bloch: Writer & Gentlemen

Hugh B. Cave

Robert Bloch and I have been around for awhile. We both wrote for many of the old pulp-paper magazines, including the original Weird Tales. When the pulps died, Bob soared off into radio, novels, movie and TV scripts while I moved into books and the slicks. Surprisingly, we didn't come face to face until we were co-guests of honor at the 1983 Pulpcon in Dayton, Ohio.

It was an odd sort of meeting. By the best of good luck we arrived at the Dayton airport within moments of each other, and my airline had lost part of my return ticket. While they looked for it, Bob and I sat on a bench for forty-five minutes and reminisced about old times. By the time we reached the Dayton University convention scene we were old friends.

But I had been reading Bob's books and stories, hearing his radio dramas and watching his work on TV and in the movies for years and years. And I had admired just about everything this man did.

There isn't space here to go through Robert Bloch's long, long list of works and discuss individual achievements. Anyway, the man should be taken as a whole, first for his wit and warmth, then for the impact he has had on the field of the macabre in general. More than any other writer, it was Bloch who ventured perhaps I should say adventured away from the old weird-fiction themes and began finding the new kinds of horror in the minds of ordinary people in ordinary places.

If you line up a collection of today's horror novels and read a couple of chapters in each, you'll discover something else to admire about Mr. Bloch. He is one of the very few fantasy writers left who use the English language the way it was meant to be used as a tool of communication. While newer writers ruthlessly monkey around with it, often using it as a means of hiding from the reader what they are talking about because, I suppose, they think such deception makes them look "clever" or "deep" Bloch wants the reader to understand what he is saying, and makes certain the reader does so. You don't find Mr. B. indulging in the kind of deliberate obscurity that leaves a reader at the end of a story, angry with himself for "not getting" what the tale is about. Bob turns out a prose that is easy to read and seems so deceptively easy to write, but that actually demands not only consummate skill but a conscience and a caring.

At a convention panel on which Bob and I both appeared, someone asked the question, "If you could choose any one writer with whom you would like to collaborate on a novel, who would it be?" I had only to point to Robert Bloch and say, "That bloke, because working with him would be a learning experience." It would be, too. Not to mention a heap of fun.

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During the 1930s and 1940s, Hugh B. Cave published more than 800 stories in more than 100 different pulp magazines. Since that time, he has published approximately 350 fiction pieces in slick magazines, including The Saturday Evening Post (46 stories), Good Housekeeping (41 stories), Redbook, Woman's Home Companion, Colliers, Liberty, Esquire, Ladies' Home Journal, American, Country Gentleman, Boys' Life, and American Boy. One American Magazine short story, "Two Were Left," has been reprinted in schoolbooks, worldwide, more than 100 times.

Mr. Cave's recent books include the following:

In addition, Wildside Press is reissuing approximately twelve of Hugh B. Cave's older books on a reprint-on-demand basis.

A good recent interview with Hugh B. Cave can be found here.

This essay originally appeared in Weird Tales 300 (Spring 1991). It is copyright 1991 by Hugh B. Cave, and is reprinted here with his permission.

Webmaster's Note: Weird Tales 300 is an excellent issue which every Bloch fan should own. In addition to the above interview by Bradley H. Sinor, the issue features interviews with Robert Bloch by Bradley H. Sinor and Bob Morrish, reprints of Bloch's short story and teleplay "Beetles," a reprint of Bloch and Henry Kuttner's short story "The Grab Bag," and an excerpt from Bloch's (then-forthcoming) autobiography.