The Story of Noichi the Blind

The Story of Noichi the Blind
The Story of Noichi the Blind (Cemetery Dance Publications, 2007)

The novella is my favorite length in which to write horror, so when Richard Chizmar requested a novella for Cemetery Dance’s hardcover novella series, I immediately started thinking about what to write.

My son Colin moved to Japan when he was still in college, transferring to Temple’s Tokyo campus and then staying there after graduation, working first for Anchor and then for Square Enix as a videogame designer. My fondness for all things Japanese has increased during his tenure there and our many visits. And one of the things I have long liked about Japan has been the writer Lafcadio Hearn. So I decided to create a “rediscovered” Hearn story which I would then “edit” with the help of the fictitious Alan Drew, Ph.D., a Hearn scholar.

The result was The Story of Noichi the Blind, complete with an introduction telling how my son found the story and sent it to me, and how the manuscript’s  typeface was identified by the very real Richard Polt, who is an expert in antique typewriters and also runs the Harry Stephen Keeler website. The story follows, and the volume ends with an Afterword by Dr. Drew in which, through textual analysis, he concludes that the tale is not by Hearn, but by an unknown admirer living in Japan sometime before 1940.

The whole creation was a delight to concoct, and the story itself is one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever set to paper, though told in a classic, fairytale manner that somehow makes it palatable. The reviewers seemed to have as much fun with it as I did, and my favorite comment was one from the Booklist reviewer who said, “This extraordinary performance makes such comparably transgressive writing as the Marquis de Sade’s seem totally crude.” Now that made my year.

The delightful cover painting is by the wonderful Jill Bauman (I own the framed initial monochromatic study she did for it). I have also turned the story into a play for puppet theatre, blending traditional Japanese puppetry with contemporary puppetry, in the hopes that somewhere, someday, someone will be twisted enough to undertake the project…

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