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Authors: Michael Bishop

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Who Made Stevie Crye?

Table of Contents

Who Made Stevie Crye?

A Novel of the American South

Michael Bishop

Who Made Stevie Crye?

Michael Bishop

Mary Stevenson Crye, a recently widowed young mother known as
to her family and friends, lives in a small Georgia community with her two children and a balky PDE Exceleriter. As a free-lance writer, she depends upon this last-named device, once a state-of-the-art variety of
, to create income for the maintenance of her small clan.

Then the PDE Exceleriter goes noisily on the fritz, and so many other things begin to go wrong as a result -- from her meeting with a weird young typewriter repairman named Seaton Benecke and Seaton's creepy pet, a capuchin monkey named 'Crets . . . to her "repaired" machine's insistence on typing segments of her everyday life as she either lives or hallucinates it to . . .

Simply let it be known that the horror of Stevie's husband's death from cancer, of her concern for the sexual angst of her son Teddy, and of her doomed but persistent struggle to solve all her problems via her literary calling lead her to the doorstep of a fortuneteller, Sister Celestial, and on to even more remarkable descents into Southern Gothic darkness.

A novel of the American south, an alternately tender and scathing parody of twentieth-century horror novels, and an involving account of one woman's battle to maintain her sanity,
Who Made Stevie Crye?
will unleash a gamut of reactions from any attentive reader . . . from laughter to disquiet to outrage to incredulity. Back in print again on the thirtieth anniversary of its original publication, this novel awaits new readers to frighten, bemuse, scandalize, and delight. Why not join, or rejoin, them?

Praise for Michael Bishop’s

Who Made Stevie Crye?

“What a joy to see this wonderful, genre-bending novel back in print. Michael Bishop is a major American fabulist, and
Who Made Stevie Crye?
(mischievously double-titled
The Typing
) will not leave you alone after you have read it.
Who Made Stevie Crye?
is a brilliant novel of authentic character. It is also paradoxically a parody, a satire, and a metafiction—metahorror?—that sports with the horror genre of the 1980s. And, oh, yes, lest I forget: beware of typewriters, those soul-stealing clackety-clack machines of a not yet forgotten era.”

—Jack Dann, author of
The Rebel

Who Made Stevie Crye?
is a smart, funny and very creepy novel of domestic horror, and one with a particularly strong appeal to other writers. This is not only because the main character is a writer—a highly sympathetic, believable character—or that she is menaced by the most vital tool of her trade—but, even more, because the experimental, meta-fictional form of this book deconstructs and interrogates the very act of writing fiction, as it illuminates the strange connections between life and art. Scary, ridiculous, dreamlike, horrific, parodic, fantastical and realistic by turns, it is a unique and irresistible contribution to the genre.

—Lisa Tuttle, author of
The Silver Bough

Who Made Stevie Crye?
proves that Michael Bishop can write anything and make it wonderful.”

—Pat Cadigan, author of

“If horror had not been so over-marketed that it died in 1990, this novel would have been the godfather of a great tradition. As it is, it stands alone, like a lighthouse, shining bright, for, in
Stevie Crye
, Michael Bishop wrestles the gorilla ghost of Stephen King to the carpet, then shakes hands: his marvelous evocation of the sink-holes under the cellars of small-town life in America both honors King and demonstrates how much more could be done with the terror of recognition.”

—John Clute, author of

“No mere simple Stephen King-style thriller, Michael Bishop’s clever and frightening
Who Made Stevie Crye?
possesses an added layer of metafictional complexity, thus disconcerting the reader about the levels of reality involved. It presents a labyrinth where the role of creator and creation are hopelessly tangled. The terrifying and witty portrait of a brave woman facing a tormenting Ellisonian deity.”

—Paul Di Filippo, author of
A Mouthful of Tongues

“A marvelous book which transcends genre.”

Fantasy Review

“A modern ghost story and a top-notch one.”

San Francisco Chronicle

Other Fairwood Press books
by Michael Bishop

Brittle Innings

Ancient of Days

Who Made Stevie Crye?

A Fairwood Press/Kudzu Planet Productions Book

August 2014

Copyright © 1984 Michael Bishop

Illustrations Copyright © 1984 Jeffrey K Potter

Introduction Copyright © 2012 Jack Slay, Jr.

Author Afterword Copyright © 2014 Michael Bishop

All Rights Reserved

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Fairwood Press

21528 104th Street Court East

Bonney Lake, WA 98391

Cover illustration & design by

Paul Swenson

Interior illustrations by

J.K. Potter

Book design by

Patrick Swenson

Special Thirtieth Anniversary Edition

Kudzu Planet Productions,

an imprint of Fairwood Press

ISBN13: 978-1-933846-46-0

First Fairwood/Kudzu Planet Productions Edition: August 2014

Printed in the United States of America

eISBN: 978-1-62579-329-4

Electronic Version by Baen Books

For Jim Turner

Satirical “Meta-Horror”
An Introduction to
Who Made Stevie Crye?

by Jack Slay, Jr.

Who Made Stevie Crye?
was not what the science-fiction world or the fans of Michael Bishop were expecting. In a recent email, Michael told me that he had envisioned
Who Made Stevie Crye?
(1984), his tenth novel and the follow-up to the Nebula Award-winning
No Enemy But Time
(1982), as “a parody-cum-satire of horror novels.” The horror genre was enormously popular at the time, thanks in large measure to Stephen King’s seemingly unending output, title after title coming to perch atop the bestseller lists. King, in fact, had not long before published
, a novel that Michael reviewed for the
Washington Post Book World
. So Michael’s failure to write another anthropological SF novel instead, he says, proves that “I never had a very good nose for the main chance and didn’t exactly cash in on the success of
No Enemy But Time

The “Stevie” at the heart of his unexpected quasi-horror novel is Mary Stevenson Crye, a name with an implicit allusion to Mr. King . . . as well as, Michael confesses, an implicit boast that his satire would “skewer this august person.” Indeed, midway through
Who Made Stevie Crye?
, Michael unfolds a scene that pokes fun at Cujo’s attacks on the protagonist of that novel. For King’s rabid, possibly even demonic St. Bernard, however, Michael substitutes a lugubrious basset hound, which, during one of the dog’s wobbly assaults on Stevie’s VW microbus, contorts his muzzle “into a sousaphone bell for the bugling of his bafflement and outrage.”

When Michael submitted the finished manuscript to his agent, Howard Morhaim, Morhaim told him that “Satire is what closes on Saturday night.” Mainstream publishers apparently agreed, and the novel ultimately appeared from Arkham House, tenderly edited by the late Jim Turner. The novel never had an American trade paperback or mass-market edition, but, in 1987, Headline Book Publishing released a trade-paper edition in England. Michael now believes that “such popularity or acclaim as [the novel] eventually garnered owed as much to J. K. Potter’s original photographic illustrations as to its own transgressive text.” Potter’s photographs are indeed haunting, but the novel rescues itself from the remainder table, for it contains writing worthy of our admiration and a story deserving of rediscovery.

Satire, for example, often skimps on characterization. But Michael says, “In all honesty, the characters took me over. I wanted them to be credible human beings, not just types, and I think I succeeded with Stevie, her children Ted and Marella, and maybe even with the African-American fortune-teller Sister Celestial.” All the characters self-disclose as strong, viable types, as tangible as your next-door neighbor—but, of them all, Stevie Crye most emphatically steps off the page and into real life. Indeed, Stevie’s day-to-day woes mirror humanity’s, our own quotidian travails and irritants. As a result, we embrace her as our hero, a character easy to identify with and easier to root for. She is alternately courageous, funny, bitter, and fearful, but, above all else, she is utterly believable. Her struggles as a woman, a mother, and a recent widow fully engage us. She fights to accept her husband’s death, which she sees as a surrender and desertion, and also to exorcise the daily terrors of single-parenthood, writer’s block, and financial anxiety.

When Stevie’s PDE Exceleriter, a top-of-the-line electric typewriter, snaps a cable, events begin to snowball. This is a simple occurrence, a common one in the long-ago ’80s—a bygone era when folks dialed telephones, trundled about in VW microbuses, and wrote on typewriters—but, in
Who Made Stevie Crye?
, this vexatious event becomes a doorway into a world of subterranean shadows. Through this doorway saunters Seaton Benecke, typewriter repairman, a creepy drop-in from Elsewhere. Seaton strikes Stevie as “having all the passion and tenderheartedness of a zombie in a George Romero flick.” (Michael himself describes the character as “spookily troublesome.”) Under the guises of a good-ol’-boy repairman and a closet fan of her writing, Seaton weasels his way into Stevie’s life, haunting her through the Exceleriter, tormenting her children and her. As icing on this uncanny cake, ’Crets, a white-faced, blood-imbibing capuchin monkey, more often than not accompanies Seaton on his rounds.

Then, of course, the novel gets weird.


Another noteworthy attribute of
Who Made Stevie Crye?
is the complex way that Michael layers the novel with the metafictional, an attribute, Michael says, that “surely derives from my delight in the tricky subversiveness of that kind of storytelling.” “Meta-horror,” Ian Watson, an early collaborator of Michael’s, calls this unusual approach in his essay on the novel in
Horror: 100 Best Books
(Carroll & Graf, 1988). The Exceleriter assumes sentience, steals and recomposes Stevie’s dreams, channels onto the page her deepest fears. Reality blurs with fancy, fact with nightmare, and our perceptions and expectations hang up between what the typewriter has composed and what Stevie has actually lived. And so the Exceleriter accurately states: “

Who Made Stevie Crye?
is a novelist’s novel, one that explores the angst-ridden plight of the writer—the terrors of writer’s block, the fear of literary failure, all with the roles of creator and created inextricably entangled, in ways both disorienting and delightful. The craftiness and sagacity of Michael’s metaphors and images, his control and confidence as writer, combine to make this “parody-cum-satire of horror novels”
. They lift the novel to another, more sublime level. Even better, the novel concludes with a grand but hoary joke, a revelation that turns everything on its simian ear. But there is rich, inventive storytelling here too, and the fact that Michael claims he will never write another novel remotely similar to
Who Made Stevie Crye?
makes this tightened Thirtieth Anniversary edition of the book well worth both your time and money.

—July 2012

LaGrange, Georgia

Jack Slay, Jr., is the author of two books,
Ian McEwan
(Twayne, 1996) and, with Dale Bailey, the suspense novel
Sleeping Policemen
(Golden Gryphon, 2006). His short fiction has appeared in
Realms of Fantasy, Cemetery Dance, Talebones, The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases
, and in two anthologies,
A Cross of Centuries
Passing for Human
, edited by Michael Bishop. Slay has taught literature and writing at LaGrange College, Georgia, since 1992 (including an eight-year stint as Dean of Students). He and his wife Lori, an award-winning high-school English teacher, have three sons: Kirk, Justin, and Reed.

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