The First Two Pages: “The Paris Manuscript” by Joseph Goodrich

In April 2015, B.K. Stevens debuted the blog series “The First Two Pages,” hosting craft essays by short story writers and novelists analyzing the openings of their own work. The series continued until just after her death in August 2017, and the full archive of those essays can be found at Bonnie’s website. In November 2017, the blog series relocated to my website, and the archive of this second stage of the series can be found here.

Joseph Goodrich has the cover story in the latest issue of Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, a story that’s distinctive in two ways: a framing device at the start and finish and then a fragmented narrative at the core of the story—both of which Joseph discusses in his essay below. These are, in fact, the very reasons I invited him to write about “The Paris Manuscript,” and it was fascinating to hear his reflections on those craft choices. As an added bonus, the essay also includes some reflections of a more personal nature—a glimpse at how personal history can guide writing choices as well. Check out the post below to learn more.

Joseph’s latest book is Unusual Suspects: Selected Nonfiction, published last year, and I’m also a big fan of his earlier book Blood Relations: The Selected Letters of Ellery Queen, 1947-1950. While that seems to concentrate attention on his nonfiction, his talents run a wider range. His play Panic won the 2008 Edgar Award for Best Play, and another play, The Red Box, was the first Nero Wolfe mystery adapted for the stage with the permission of the Rex Stout Estate. Then, of course, there is the short fiction, which has appeared in both Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, among other venues. (There’s more bio at the end of the essay too!)

I’m grateful to host Joseph Goodrich this week—hope you enjoy as well!

Please use the arrows and controls at the bottom of the embedded PDF to navigate through the essay. You can also download the essay to read off-line.