Otto Hates Cozies

Ron Hogan posts a scathing "anti-cozy" quote from Otto Penzler that didn’t make the final cut in Sarah Weinman’s Publisher’s Weekly article on the "tension" between mysteries and thrillers:

"I think noir writers are writing the very best books they know how to write. They may fail; there are terrible noir
writers out there. But the cozy chick lit stories are cynical, in the
sense that an editor says, this is the guideline, this is what I want
you to write… Look at how many really good-selling female traditional
cozy writers there are, with cats solving crimes and people taking an
afternoon off during a murder investigation to shop at Prada. I don’t
think those are writers who are stretching. I don’t think they’re
trying to write anything of enduring quality. I think they’re writing
to sell books, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but you don’t have
to take it seriously as literature, and I don’t."

Also cut were quotes from yours truly about tie-ins.

7 thoughts on “Otto Hates Cozies”

  1. With all due respect to Otto, this is an ax he can stop grinding any time now. It may be true, more or less, but who cares? They have their readers and fans, too.

  2. I agree completely with Mr. Penzler’s aesthetic aversion to cozies, which reduce all human experience to trivia and games. However, the vibrant health of the mystery/crime field is largely due to its breadth: there is something for the taste of any reader, and the subgenres, including cozies, should not be driven out of the tent. Compare the blooming health of mystery and crime fiction to westerns, which croaked largely because western publishers kept narrowing the field over several decades, ending up with men’s “action”–read, cowboys and gunfights, which turn off 999 potential buyers out of a thousand. At one time this field, populated by Bret Harte, Mark Twain, Zane Grey, and other diverse people, had a grip on the whole country, but that was before the western publishers got rid of all its subgenres and even confined the entire literature of the west to a three-decade period.

  3. I like cozies and buy a lot of them. Although I have to admit I don’t care for the “who-dunnit”-part of them. I call them my holiday books, as I don’t like to travel in reality, but like to visit cozy little villages and their inhabitants in my mind. I go there for a walk along mainstreet, a visit to the post-office and bakery and to greet old friends, both human and feline. After a few hours of reading I close the book, feel refreshed and have no idea who murdered whom or why. – Oh, also, a lot of cozies have accompanying cookbooks. And I love cookbooks.


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