Saturday, April 9, 2016

Psycho - by Robert Bloch - Holds up well after more than 50 years

Psycho     5 of 5 Stars

Why did is take me nearly 57 years to get around to reading Robert Bloch's Psycho?  Maybe it was because I was a mere seven years old when it was first published and I was still reading such classics as Fun With Dick and Jane and it would be a number of years before I learned of the fun to be had with a good horror book and by then it just became lost in the all the new material released in the intervening years.

So what made me decide to read this essential work now? Well, this Monday will see the release of Robert Bloch's Psycho: Sanitarium, a new novel written by Chet Williamson. Set in the years Norman Bates would spend in a mental institution following the events in Bloch's original Psycho.  Thus, now seemed like an excellent time to catch up.

By now, everyone knows the story, even if they've never read the book or seen Alfred Hitchcock's film adaptation.  So it's really not necessary to provide much of a synopsis here.  Let's just say Psycho was pretty perverse for its day and writer, Robert Bloch did a wonderful job in expressing the relationship between Norman and his mother Norma which lead to his being the person he is in the book.

Reading Psycho has even given me a new appreciation for the A&E series Bates Motel which I've enjoyed for four seasons now.  While not exactly a retelling of the book or the movie, it certainly captures the underlying themes of the author's original story, particularly the way the Bates family put the "fun" in dysfunctional.  Norman Bates is a wonderfully complex, broken man, and is one of my favorite flawed literary characters of all time.

As a result of reading Psycho I'm looking forward, more than ever, to Chet Williamson's new work of which Publisher's Weekly says, “Horror author Chet Williamson ably succeeds in the tough task of creating a sequel to Robert Bloch’s masterpiece, Psycho; a prequel to the less effective Psycho II; and a solid story in its own right…The novel shines. Whenever Norman gets the spotlight, the novel feels like a lost Bloch work.”

The original Psycho is available through The Overlook Press in every format imaginable.


Robert Bloch was an American fiction writer, primarily of crime, horror, fantasy and science fiction, from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Best known as the author of Psycho.  Bloch wrote hundreds of short stories and over 30 novels. He was one of the youngest members of the Lovecraft Circle. H. P. Lovecraft was Bloch's mentor and one of the first to seriously encourage his talent.

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