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.
Josh Pachter has established himself as a prolific and inventive anthologist, specializing recently in collections of crime fiction inspired by singer-songwriters—including Joni Mitchell, Jimmy Buffett, and Billy Joel. This month, he moves from music to movies with the new anthology Monkey Business: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Films of the Marx Brothers, which will be published September 19 by Untreed Reads. As usual, the collection features a wide-ranging and distinguished group of authors, including Donna Andrews, Frankie Y. Bailey, Jeff Cohen, Lesley A. Diehl, Brendan DuBois, Terence Faherty, Barb Goffman, Joseph Goodrich, Robert Lopresti, Sandra Murphy, Robert J. Randisi, Marilyn Todd, Joseph S. Walker, and Pachter himself.
Robert Benchley famously equated analysis of humor with humorless people, but over the next few weeks, the First Two Pages will feature several contributors to Monkey Business reflecting on their craft choices in the opening of their respective stories, beginning today with Robert J. Randisi on his story, “Go West,” inspired by the Marx Brothers’ 1940 film of the same name.
Bob Randisi has written across a wide variety of genres—western, mystery, private eye, horror, science fiction and action/adventure—with nearly 700 books and more than 60 short stories, and he’s a distinguished editor himself, with 35 anthologies under his belt. Among his many honors are three celebrating lifetime achievements: from The Private Eye Writers of America, the Western Fictioneers, and the Short Fiction Mystery Society.
I’m honored to have him here, and hope you’ll enjoy the sample below from “Going West.”
Stay tuned over the next couple of weeks to hear from Frankie Y. Bailey and Jeff Cohen 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.Randisi-First-Two-Pages-1