I write hard-boiled mysteries and I write cozies. I read hard-boiled mysteries and I read cozies. There’s a lot to like and dislike in both genres. That said, the more I think about Otto’s latest tirade, the angrier I get. Not so much at him, but at my fellow mystery writers, who are so afraid of speaking out against Otto Penzler that he feels empowered to keep embarrassing mystery writers everywhere with his ignorance. Here are just some of the incredibly stupid things Otto Penzler has said about cozies and those who write them:
"They may be fun, they may have their charm, but they are not
serious literature and don’t deserve an Edgar."
"[Malice Domestic] honors books written in the mode of Agatha Christie,
loosely defined as those that contain no explicit sex, excessive gore,
or gratuitous violence. Unstated, but clearly of equal importance, is
that they must contain not a scintilla of style, originality, or depth.
They must have the texture and nuance of an infomercial, lacking only
its philosophical power."
"Cozies are not serious
literature. They don’t deserve to win. Men take [writing] more
seriously as art. Men labor over a book to make it literature. "
"I think noir writers are writing the very best books they know how to write. I don’t
think [cozy writers] 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."
This guy is the mystery equivalent of a drunken Mel Gibson, spewing his hateful and ignorant shit, and yet, inexplicably, he’s still treated like some kind of royalty in our field. Nobody but cozy writers have dared to criticize him. Why? Cowardice.
It’s time mystery writers stopped bowing and cowering in front of him simply because he established the Mysterious Bookshop and the Mysterious Press. Face facts, people. He’s a sexist, narrowminded neanderthal…who embarrasses himself and, even worse, our profession every time he spews his offensive, sexist crap. With our silence, we imply that we and the Mystery Writers of America endorse his sexism and hatred.
How far does this guy have to go before mystery writers finally get the guts to say, loudly and publicly, that Otto Penzler doesn’t speak for mystery writers, the MWA, or the mainstream of our profession. We do not share his sexism or his absurdly narrow view of what constitutes mystery writing.