Saturday, May 14, 2005

Exclusive Interviews: E. Hoffman [sic]

From Eldritch Dark:
Exclusive Interviews: E. Hoffman [sic]

Henry Kuttner

"Have some goulash" said E. Hoffman Price. E. stands for Edgar.

I had luncht litely on a pint of blood & a corpse's leg—a tough one at that—so I had some goulash. I had been driving for hrs. Now, in Price's home overlooking Redwood City, a repulsive little village on San Francisco Bay, I peerd thru a film of goulash & observd "How long have you been writing?"

"Yrs" he said. "Remember 'The Sultan's Jest'? That was my first yarn. Or maybe it was 'Apricots from Ipsaham'. I don't remember."

"I love goulash" I said. "How about 'The Stranger from Kurdistan'?" This is perhaps Price's most famous yarn, which ran in Weird Tales back in 1926 or 1927.

"My 3rd. I sold it to Wright, who didn't publish it for about a yr, & during that yr I don't think I sold him anything. He wasn't sure my stuff would go over with the readers. Then 'The Stranger' was printed, & it got such good response that he bought plenty from me after that."

"You're not writing weird fiction now?"

"No" he observed. "Can't afford to. Adventure is much more profitable. Some more goulash?"

He lifted the cat from the platter & ladled out more goulash. Price's cat is a strange creature. It isn't his, really, belonging next door, but it creeps into his house at every opportunity & steals food. It is a huge brindled affair, which leapt on my lap & thrust its tail into my face. I pickt myself up from the floor & resumed the goulash. Frankly, I prefer Price's own cat, a serious looking black, who eyes the world wearily & scornfully from its cushion.

Edgar Hoffman Price is a medium sized chap who reminds me of a dynamo. He is so full of inexhaustible energy that one expects him to burst in your face. He has a stiff ruff of dark brown hair, a bristling moustache, has traveld rather extensively, & is fond of taking motor trips to Hell & back. Recently he went to Mexico, or maybe that wasn't recently. At any rate, he went to Mexico, because he mentiond getting maroond on a mt rd by a landslide.

He works very quickly, averaging about 2 cigarets a pg. In fact, he knockt out a 9,000 word yarn in one day while I was there.

He has acquired a reputation for fast & reckless driving, tho I don't know why, for when we went to Auburn only 7 pedestrians were maimd, & none of them died.

At Auburn we threaded our way thru pastures, followed something laffingly calld a rd. & arrived at Clark Ashton Smith's home.

I was a little perturbd, I must confess, by the curious noises that appeard to come from far underground, & by the loathsomely shaped white objects which occasionly wriggled across our path. Nor was I reassured when Price informd me of the tales about a leprously shining wingd

thing that sometimes percht on the great oak beneath which Smith writes. Also, there were certain ft-prints—but better not to speak of that...

Smith is somewhat similar to Price in appearance, tho serious & quiet. He has been known to omit ghoulish cackles whilst devouring small children, &, in fact, there are very few small children in Auburn, a rather odd circumstance.

Smith has a cat, which eats rats when it can find any. But after hearing it make a number of unpleasant personal observations in a squeaky but undeniably human tone, I studiously avoided it.

The Archimage of Auburn for some time has been carving grotesque little images from the rock of his native hills—the Sierra foothills. Those, together with his pictures—fantastic flora & fauna of alien worlds--& his demoniac library, are more than a little fascinating.

After a period during which he did little writing, Smith is at his typewriter again, & has sold several yarns to Weird Tales, & one to Thrilling Wonder. Anent his story, "Dweller in Martian Depths", he told me that Gernsback changed the ending of it by permitting the protagonist to live, instead of allowing him to meet destruction with his companions. Nevertheless the yarn was not popular because of its grimness. Only for Weird Tales has he been able to write as he wisht, & even then there have been some rejections.

And then, full of pleasant memories & goulash I went home.

From IMAGINATION! #3 - Dec. 1937


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