Printed Page Bookshop
April 2021

Cornell Woolrich: You wouldn't want to be in his shoe
It’s a good bet that most mystery fans today have never heard of Cornell Woolrich – or William Irish or George Hopley, two of his pen names – but when pulps were king and film noir was hot, no one came close to Woolrich.  A remarkable 40 of his novels or short stories were turned into movies, the most famous of which is probably “Rear Window.”  His books, now highly collectible, are regarded as classics of the genre.  Yet even with the success he enjoyed, Woolrich lived a pitiable life, most of which he brought on himself.    

Woolrich was born in New York in 1903 and was reared in Mexico.  He enjoyed early success as a writer.  When he was only 24, his second short story, Children of the Ritz, won $10,000 -- $151,000 in 2021 dollars -- in a writing competition, and that led to lucrative offers from Hollywood for screenwriting. He failed as a screenwriter, and his personal life was a mess, so in 1932, he re-invented himself as a pulp writer, churning out stories at such a pace that he had to use pseudonyms. It was his pulp fiction that inspired the movies.

For most of his life, Woolrich lived in New York with his mother in a fleabag hotel, even though his writing made him wealthy.  “From his upper-floor room, he’d survey the roofs and alleys and fire escapes, imagining the myriad terrors that could befall the souls streaming through those clogged arteries.  Every time he heard a siren, he must have started pounding the typewriter – that’s how prolific he was," biographer Eddie Mueller wrote.   

Woolrich’s specialty was the amnesia story:  Something happens to a guy to make him forget who he is, and only a sympathetic woman can help him figure it out and explain why he woke up next to a dead body.  But can they solve it before some unknown impending doom befalls him? 

“He wrote slavishly, but uneasily, like a man under a death sentence.  Taken individually, his tales are often masterful excursions into nail-biting suspense.  As a life’s work, they offer an unrelentingly  bleak world view.  Each story is a brick in a massive wall of malevolence," Mueller wrote  

When Woolrich’s mother died in 1957, he went into a sharp mental and physical decline.  He was an alcoholic and a diabetic.  A chafing shoe caused an infection in his foot that he ignored until it became gangrenous and required amputation. When he died in 1968, he weighed 89 pounds.

One biographer wrote this epitaph:  “He had the most wretched life of any American writer since Poe.’” 

Sources:  Dark City:  The Lost World of Film Noir (Eddie Muller); The Dark Page:  Films that Inspired American Film Noir (Kevin Johnson), and Wikipedia.


This Month's Puzzler


On April 22, 1707, this man was born into a noble English family in
Sharpham, Somerset, England. By age 30, he had written 25 plays, most of
them well regarded in their time but not remembered today. In his early
30s, he became a lawyer, and eventually a magistrate. He continued to
write on the side, however, and ultimately became one of England's great
writers (Sir Walter Scott called him "the father of the English novel").
His best-known work was the 1849 picaresque novel "The History of Tom
Jones, a Foundling." He is widely quoted as saying:


"If you make money your god, it will plague you like the devil."

Who is this man? (Answer below)


Is Printed Page (and others like it) an endangered species?
Printed Page began with challenges.  When we opened our doors in 2009, customers couldn't even get to us because of construction on Broadway.  A new device called the Kindle had just come out, causing many to predict the demise of the printed book.  The country was in the middle of the Great Recession. So we're not new to challenges, but some challenges are new to us. 
Like many businesses, COVID was hard on us.  We had to sustain costs without revenue, and when we re-opened, many customers were still hesitant to shop.  Nationwide, book store sales were down 28% last year.  Sadder, once every week, a book store closed.
Fortunately, we are blessed with some great customers.  We are grateful for every one of you.
We hope to be around for a long time, and you can help assure that -- not only with your continued business, of course, but with a recommendation.  We would be deeply appreciative if you would take just a minute to say a kind word about Printed Page on Google, Yelp! or Facebook.  These online reviews are our lifeblood.  Customers increasingly find us by first reading reviews online.  Great reviews create more great customers.  
Thank you.  And we hope to see you for a long time to come.
Come in any Thursday, and we'll cover three of your books
We have archival dust jacket covers free for the taking on Thursdays.  We even install them, and no purchase is necessary.  
We passed!
Denver health authorities did a surprise inspection of Printed Page in March to see if we were complying with all COVID regulations -- and we were! Their only little suggestion was that we put up a sign they hadn't yet sent us.  (We know, we know!)

Puzzler answer

Henry Fielding.  (If you like our Puzzler, find more on our Facebook page)
Thanks to Dr. Mardy Grothe for the use of his puzzler.  Visit him at drmardy.com.

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