It is no secret that I, Otto Penzler, can read mystery novels with greater alacrity than you. After all, I emerged from my mother’s womb with a monocle and a name quite happily palindromic. I had to wait seventeen years to grow the beard (infernal puberty hindered my ascent into manhood), but it eventually came like the downy bounty of a late summer shower. I have a pet Persian that I stroke with calculating menace. And with the extra money I netted from the sale of my press to Warner, I have been flush with funds. Where weaker men might blow such a windfall on prostitutes, pornographic videotapes, and Creamsicles, I decided to invest more responsibly, as befits a proper gentleman.
Last year, I purchased a chalice that is probably worth more than your car. I have sent at least three crime fiction writers to early graves. (We won’t name names, but pay attention to those who have remained silent since Thrillerfest.) In short, I matter in a way that you mere New York Sun readers can only speculate about over an affordable White Castle dinner. Upon my passing, there will be many landmarks and hosannas devoted to my legacy. And there will be many great Ottos brought forth into the world, sired by the Penzlerites under my employ. Such is the way of the mystery world. Such is the way of New York.
This kind of power comes with the territory. Particularly when you are named Otto. Only men named Otto can truly understand the responsibility of living up to the name. This is why I am all too happy to offer my services to the New York Sun and tear open the appropriate orifices.
The first target, of course, is Akashic. Being a literal-minded man, I cannot understand why Lawrence Block, who was born in Buffalo, was asked to edit Manhattan Noir. Should he not be editing Buffalo Noir instead? Why didn’t Akashic ask a man of my refined sensibilities to edit the anthology? Further, not only could I edit Mr. Block under the table, but I could also defeat him in mud wrestling, heavy drinking, and ro-sham-bo.
Second, concerning this business of Twin Cities Noir, what was Akashic thinking? Manhattan, as we all know, is the center of the universe. There are no other cities that matter. I never leave this magnificent isle. Indeed, why should I? Why should you? Why should anyone concerned with this lovely idea of noir? Let the hicks who subsist outside our civilized world enjoy their precious mass market paperbacks. Let them harbor the illusion that they might actually “think” from time to time. Even so, Akashic has a responsibility not to encourage these inveterate plebs from thinking about “noir.” Let their minds remain as dark as the millieus they have the temerity to reside in. Save the dark crime fiction for cultural experts like me.
Lastly, as Mr. Breun (perhaps the most disingenuous editor of the lot) writes in his introduction, some contributors used Crayolas instead of a typewriter to write their stories. Never before have I encountered such an amateurish approach to fiction writing. These contributors actually believe that they can have fun? Heaven forfend! Perhaps the next generation of fiction writers might benefit from austere parents. For example, I will always be grateful to Ma Penzler for attaching an unusual device to my four year old skull and electrocuting me any time I caught sight of a coloring book. In this way, I was weaned off coloring books and Crayolas at an early age. I wasn’t distracted by all the pedantic fun that other children experienced. As a result, my way to the top was without a single obstacle. It is because of this that I am the great success I am today. It is because of this that I fear God. It is because of this that I know mystery better than you.
© 2006, Edward Champion. All rights reserved.