Second of a promised three volumes (The Devil with You!, 1999) of Psycho Bob’s earliest penny-a-word paste gems from his golden days in pulps (Weird Tales, Amazing Stories, Blue Book, and Imaginative Tales).
Also included are unblinkered essays by Bloch loyalists Schow and Douglas E. Winter (while research assistant Stefan R. Dziemianowicz deserves a rosette for digging through mold-ridden old trash heaps of penny prose now carbonizing into coal pits). Readers who first came upon Bloch when he was in his teens and early twenties, as the top humorist and wackiest fantasist in the kingdom of pulp, will always have a soft spot for the wild and crazy wind he brought into the universe of bug-eyed monsters. The new sheaf again has four short novels, some of which have not seen hardcover, while Schow’s walk through their publishing histories shows them fleeing hither and thither to outrun oblivion. Winter’s foreword tells us, “God, I miss the man,” and reveals that the title story was Bloch’s first short novel (seen in Weird Tales, 1942). It opens: “ ‘Let me ask you a question,’ said my visitor. ‘Would you go to hell for ten thousand dollars?’ ”—and what follows is a variation on Faust selling his soul. Not Marlowe, not Goethe, just sheer delirious Bloch. “The Miracle of Ronald Weems” has a truly loopy opening (which may remind you of the department store clerk given magical powers in Wells’s “The Man Who Could Work Miracles”): “Things were very quiet in ladies underwear that morning.” Where could you go with that?
Volume One of The Lost Bloch went quickly out of print, as almost certainly will Volume Two. Don’t miss the fun.