You are now entering the Jewish Currents archive.

Tales in a Jugular Vein

Lawrence Bush
April 4, 2017

Crime, horror and science fiction writer Robert Bloch, who wrote the novel Psycho, which Alfred Hitchcock adapted into his groundbreaking film, was born in Chicago on this date in 1917. In the course of his prolific career, Bloch won the Hugo Award, the Bram Stoker Award, the Edgar Allen Poe Award, the Fritz Lieber Fantasy Award and the World Fantasy Award -- among many others -- and in 2008 the Library of America selected his 1962 essay, “The Shambles of Ed Gein,” for inclusion in its two-century retrospective of American true crime writing. During his boyhood, Bloch was an avid reader of Weird Tales and other pulp magazines, for which he soon became a very popular and productive writer. In 1933, he wrote a fan letter to H.P. Lovecraft, from whom he heard back; Lovecraft’s publisher then produced Bloch’s first collection of stories, and his novel Strange Eons is a tribute to the famous horror writer. Bloch also wrote for radio and vaudeville during the late 1930s and 1940s. He moved to Hollywood in 1959 and became an active television and film writer (while producing a steady stream of crime and fantasy novels), contributing teleplays to Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Thriller, Star Trek, and Tales from the Dark Side. Several of Bloch’s short story collections use literary puns in their titles, such as “Tales in a Jugular Vein” and “Out of the Mouths of Graves.” Between his first published story at age 17 and his death at 77, Bloch’s output included more than 200 published stories (which have been collected into three anthologies), nearly thirty novels, numerous non-fiction essays, and more than a score of screenplays.

“I have nothing but gratitude for all the things that have happened to me in my life. Look at the wonderful things that science fiction has done. By picking up a magazine when I was 10 years old, I didn’t realize I was opening the door to a world that was going to give me a whole lifetime of pleasure and enable me to meet hundreds of people that I would not otherwise have met.” --Robert Bloch

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.