An Unauthorized Autobiography
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 The irrepressible Bloch (Psycho, and gobbets of brethren) kicks off his bouncy autobiography by calling it ``unauthorized,'' as if it appeared from apparitional fingers without his permission. Don't believe it: This is pure Bloch--and much better than his recent excelsior-packed novel, Psycho House (1990). Bloch sets out with gusto and never falls into doldrums, which suggests that even at age 77, if given a strong subject, he can summon the same youthful zest that flowed in Weird Stories and Amazing Stories back in the mid-30's, when he first published at age 18. Phony footnotes abound, including: ``This is not a footnote'' and ``Why anyone would want to be known as the author of Psycho is beyond me. For some time I've attempted to persuade the editors of Who's Who to amend my listing as follows: `Robert Bloch is the author of The Iliad, The Odyssey, Romeo and Juliet, and The Complete Works of Isaac Asimov.' '' Bloch, we learn, is a midwesterner of German Jewish parentage who first worked as a pulp writer (his mock-Runyonesque character Lefty Feep, he intimates, introduced a slangy new daffiness to sf and fantasy), then as a greatly admired pulp writer with a fan club, then as an aspiring hack for Milwaukee politicians (he actually got a mayor elected), then as a radio-drama writer. His winning a Hugo for his story ``That Hellbound Train'' and the filming, in midlife, of Psycho boosted his career ever upward. Throughout the memoir, anecdotes abound concerning great writing friends (Arthur C. Clarke; August Derleth; H.P. Lovecraft, whose correspondence with the youthful Bloch set Bloch on his writing career) and actor folk (from Karloff to Joan Crawford): Alfred Hitchcock, Bloch tells us, forever said that Bloch was responsible for everything in the film version of Psycho, including the last famous line, ``I wouldn't hurt a fly.'' Brilliant, loopy, Blochian, and a towering example of modest self-deprecation and lampoonery on a Lilliputian scale. Seriously.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-312-85373-4
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Tor
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1993


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