Friday, March 19, 2010

Anthony Berkeley Cox's Jugged Journalism (1925).

Portrait of Anthony Berkeley Cox
by George Morrow,
from Jugged Journalism.
Golden Age mystery author Anthony Berkeley Cox (Before the Fact, Malice Aforethought, The Poisoned Chocolates Case, etc.) published Jugged Journalism in 1925, a collection of pieces that previously appeared in Punch. It is essentially a manual for writing in all sorts of forms, including articles, essays, and short stories, with tongue firmly planted in cheek. To wit, Cox on editors:
"The popular idea of an editor is a sort of literary ogre, gnashing with his fangs the manuscripts of hapless tyros and taking a fiendish delight in trampling upon the efforts of all those whose names are not sufficiently known to the public at large to restrain his savage instincts" (p. 25).
Several of Cox's points should be added to the famous "Decalogue: Ten Commandments for Mystery Fiction" of his fellow Detection Club member, Monsignor Ronald Knox:
• "Your detective is nearly always an amateur and he invariably has two surnames in place of the usual one and a Christian" (p. 36).

• "The mystery story should carry a love interest . . . . she must have slanting green eyes and behave inscrutably" (p. 43)
Cox's sample mystery story in this book is called, memorably, "The Frozen Fang." Also do not miss Cox's "Holmes and the Dasher," a Sherlock Holmes parody written in the style of P. G. Wodehouse:
"What, ho, Watson, old fruit," he said at last, tossing the letter over to me. "What does that mass of alluvial deposit you call a brain make of this, what, what?" (p. 258).
Sadly, this spritely book is out of print. Please, someone republish it.

1 comment:

Martin Edwards said...

Very interesting. I agree it should be republished.