I’ve never been partial to them myself, but there’s no denying the popular appeal of a murder mystery story. For those who find the genre a little too clinical, however, allow me to suggest an alternative: Absurder Mystery.
It was R. G. Spendock who coined the phrase, back in 1957. Tired of stories that ‘present a mystery, in all its glorious strangeness, and then go on to solve it, with cold aplomb’, he sought instead tales which only ever set up situations. ‘I will never condescend to a solution’, he once wrote. And so it was. His stories were all incredibly open-ended; rife with gossip, swimming with potentials: possibilities perpetually lording it over probabilities. Everything was left in the air. Even the penguins.
Though he struggled to reach a wide audience with these fantastically aggravating narratives, he did succeed in placing a few of them in some of the leading literary journals of the day. It has taken fifty years or so, nonetheless, for someone to collect them all into one volume. We must give thanks, therefore, for the efforts of Spendock’s grandson, Nicholas, without whom Just No Stories: The Collected Prose of R. G. Spendock would not have been possible.
No word on the publishing date just yet, but I’ll keep you posted.