Otto Penzler just can’t help himself. He’ll use any excuse at all to attack "cozies." He even found a way to use the launch of the International Thriller Writers organization, of which I am a proud member, as a way to take yet another swipe at the genre and its authors in a New York Sun article:
We all have our prejudices (yes, you too). I admit that if I were on the Best
Novel committee, books with cutesy pun titles would be eliminated before I read
the first page. They may be fun, they may have their charm, but they are not
serious literature and don’t deserve an Edgar. Which is why someone had the
bright idea to create Malice Domestic, a conference devoted to fiction so
lightweight that an anvil on top of it is the only way to prevent it from
floating off to the great library in the sky. Other readers might eliminate
espionage novels, feeling they are not "mysteries," or books with dirty words
and nasty sex scenes because they think these things have no place in a nice
A new organization has just started up as a counterweight to the literarily
negligible works honored at Malice Domestic. David Morrell and Gayle Lynds, two
stars of the thriller world, have helped create International Thriller Writers
The formation of the ITW had nothing to do with the existence of Malice Domestic, or displeasure with cozies, or a lack of respect for their authors, many of whom I count as close friends. The ITW was created to:
…celebrate the thriller, to enhance the prestige and raise the profile of thrillers, to award prizes to outstanding thriller novels and authors, and to create opportunities for collegiality within the thriller community.
Where does it say anything about cozies or Malice Domestic? No where. This is a case of Otto Penzler making up inflammatory bullshit to serve his own prejudices. Otto has his prejudices, that much is clear. Fine. But to smear ITW and its members with them is another matter. The ITW currently has Otto’s column posted on their website, which implies that we endorse his idiotic views that cozies, and those who write them, aren’t worthy of recognition or respect. I hope the ITW leadership will remove his column from the website.
(Thanks to Toni Kelner for the heads-up)
UPDATE 5-17-05 – I want to applaud my colleagues in the ITW for doing the right thing: The leadership has left Otto’s column up on their website, but they’ve deleted the inflamatory paragraphs.
The comments were not necessary for the purpose of sharing
information about us that has appeared in the press, so they were
edited out. The posting of the column on the site in the rather obscure press
clippings section was in no way intended to endorse Penzler’s views.
Chair, ITW Web Committee