Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Edgar in the Closet

On Friday Murder in the Closet: Essays on Queer Clues in Crime Fiction, which I first blogged about here a year ago, was nominated for an Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers Association for Best Critical/Biographical work.  I both edited and contributed to this collection, which scrutinizes LGBTQ themes in and writers of crime fiction in the period before the Stonewall Riots, a pivotal moment in LGTBQ history.  (They are coming up on their 50th anniversary next year.) 

This is a subject area which some years ago I concluded, from my reading in the mystery genre from around 1920 to 1970, has been seriously understudied in works of mystery genre history.  Personally I was continually surprised by how many LGBTQ crime writers, seemingly unacknowledged as such, kept popping up from this period during my own studies (which had nothing to do, incidentally, with LGTBQ history), and by how LGBTQ themes kept appearing, if necessarily in more oblique fashion than today. "Murder, Obliquely," as Cornell Woolrich put it.

How had these themes not been acknowledged in the once quite popular and still critically well-regarded work of Patrick Quentin, for example (or the fact that the two men behind Patrick Quentin were for many years a couple)?  Weren't we ready today, I asked myself, for an unblinkered appraisal of this body of work?

In 2015 I sought out people from both the blogging and academic worlds to contribute to an essay collection, and was pleased with the enthusiastic responses.  The result was Murder in the Closet, which takes readers on quite a queer and colorful tour of crime fiction from Fergus Hume in the 1880s to the early George Baxt of the 1960s. 

I'm so glad that the MWA has recognized the worth of this study.  The other nominees are a prestigious group indeed, including biographies of Daphne du Maurier and Chester B. Himes by Tatiana de Rosnay and Lawrence P. Jackson and fascinating critical studies of the perennially popular Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes by Mattias Bostrom and Michael Sims. It really is an honor just to be nominated with this group, and I hope the nomination of Murder in the Closet may encourage some more people to rummage through the closets in the great house of vintage crime and mystery fiction.

19 comments:

  1. Wonderful! Well deserved, Curtis. Congratulations!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good for you, Curtis, and best of luck with the Edgar Award.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Jeff. You have reminded me, too, that I need to link the piece I wrote on Murder in the Closet that is posted at The Rap Sheet.

      Delete
  3. OMG!! It's about time, Curt. I'm ecstatic you finally got your long overdue notice from the MWA. And -- of course -- I'm so proud to be part of this landmark book and equally ecstatic to say that I'm part of an Edgar nominated book! Congratulations to you and to all the contributors. Now go open a bottle of champagne!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks, and thanks to you too, John, for your three essays! It's that kind of passion and commitment that powered the book. I feel this is one for the bloggers as well. they've done so much for the study of vintage crime fiction over the last decade or more.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Congratulations, Curtis! You're one of my favorite writers on crime (fiction), so I'm glad to see you getting appreciation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Ben, I'm glad too to be someone's fave--or at least among them!

      Delete
  6. Many congratulations on the nomination, Curt! I don't read a lot of vintage crime and mystery fiction but news like this is always inspirational.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Prashant, I'm pleased people are interested in the vintage stuff.

      Delete
  7. Just seen the news – congrats on the nomination, Curt! Nice work!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Congratulations on getting nominated, Curt. You'll eventually get a life-time achievement award for all the work you've done promoting the Golden Age detective story and the people who wrote them. Keep up the good job!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In the meantime there's this instant gratification. Thanks!

      Delete
  9. That is fantastic, Curtis. You certainly deserve the recognition.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thank you all, it means something in my life believe me to know that what I write reaches people in some way. And my thanks to the MWA committee for giving this book a place at the banquet table.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I've only just come to this! Fantastic news and very well-deserved and overdue recognition for you. And obviously as a contributor I am even more thrilled... But it is you who deserves the credit, you must be very pleased.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not something I was expecting, as I had gotten used to being passed over, but it was nice to see and I'm glad to see the recognition for the book and all the essays from everyone that went into it. As far as I know this is the first explicitly LGBTQ themed book to be nominated for an Edgar, at least in this category, so it feels something of a milestone in its own way.

      Delete