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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Harry Stephen Keeler

HARRY STEPHEN KEELER (1890-1967) is one of the strangest writers who ever lived. In his time, he was pegged as a mystery novelist who also wrote some science fiction. Today, if you've heard of him at all, it's as the Ed Wood of mystery novelists, a writer reputed to be so bad he's good.

Some typical Keeler situations:
*A man is found strangled to death in the middle of a lawn, yet there are no footprints other than his own. Police suspect the "Flying Strangler-Baby," a killer midget who disguises himself as a baby and stalks victims by helicopter. (X. Jones of Scotland Yard, 1936)
*A disgruntled phone company employee calls every man in Minneapolis, telling him the morning papers will name him as the secret husband of convicted murderess Jemimah Cobb, who runs a whorehouse specializing in women with physical abnormalities. (The Man With the Magic Eardrums, 1939)

Yet another part of Keeler's charm is his unmitigatedly bad titles: Finger, Finger!, The Yellow Zuri, The Amazing Web, Find the Clock, and The Face of the Man From Saturn.

I have just finished reading The Case of the Crazy Corpse which features a mind-numbing plot involving a corpse discovered at the bottom of Lake Michigan. The body is unusual in that the bottom half is a Negro man and the top half is a Chinese woman who are joined together by some sort of greenish glue.

If that scenario floats your boat, check out these links:
Harry Stephen Keeler Home Page
HSK Society