An Interview with Jeff Vorzimmer, Editor of ‘The Best of Manhunt 2’

9781951473051The Best Of Manhunt, a collection of over twenty-five stories from the great crime fiction magazine of the fifties and sixties, was one of our most popular anthologies. We were happy the demand caused a follow up with The Best of Manhunt 2, knowing there were still wonderful crime stories from Manhunt that hadn’t been republished. Editor Jeff Vorzimmer talked with us about making the second dive in.

Scott Montgomery: Besides there being so much great Manhunt material still left to dive into, what made you take on the task again?

Jeff Vorzimmer: We had so many stories left over we couldn’t squeeze into the first volume and the fact that we had so many advance orders on the first volume, it just seemed like a no-brainer. The original selections were decided on by Bill Pronzini, me and Peter Enfantino. Bill and Peter are the only two people I know who have read every Manhunt story. The only thing I insisted on was including every story in the Manhunt anthology published in 1958, but I also wanted to include enough other great Manhunt stories so that any potential reader who had read that volume would still find our anthology worth buying. But I guess the biggest reason for the second volume was that we hadn’t included ten or so of the twenty-seven stories that Bill had wanted to include. Ultimately we included seven more of his selections in the second anthology. A few I vetoed, two sci-fi stories, for example, and two where the author estates didn’t want to include stories.

SM: Do you see any kind of defining differences in the two volumes?

JV: When we did the first volume, we knew that we had to include stories by big-name authors as a draw, which, unfortunately squeezed out a lot of equally good, if not better, stories by lesser-known authors. We knew that if the first volume sold well, we could include these really great stories in a follow up volume, since we would already have an audience, who would trust us enough to read a volume of stories, some of which were by lesser-known authors.

SM: Who are some lesser known authors you were happy to include here?

JV: Jack Ritchie (again), C. L. Sweeney, Robert Edmond Alter (one of my favorite authors) and Edward D. Hoch, who you wouldn’t know unless you were an avid reader of mystery magazines or short story anthologies in the 60s and 70s.

SM: Was there a particular story you wanted in the first one that you put in this one?

JV: Oh, yes, and they were all Bill Pronzini selections—“Protection” by Erle Stanly Gardner, “A Question of Values” by C. L. Sweeney, “Shatter Proof” by Jack Ritchie and “The Old Pro” by H. A. DeRosso, the famous western author.

SM: I was happy to see you had a story featuring William Campbell Gault’s Joe Puma. What do you enjoy about his writing?

JV: Another of Bill Prozini’s selections I had originally wanted to include in the first volume. Part of my growing up was in California in the early- to mid-60s and Gault really captures the essence of what L.A. was like back then. He includes details like the names of real clubs and restaurants.

SM: You also edited a book that unearthed three books about beats. What drew you to that?

JV: As I mentioned, part of my growing up was in California in the early sixties in the L.A. area and in Carmel. At the time Carmel had a laid-back, artist colony vibe to it. Rent was cheap then and the beatniks would gather on the beach every night around bonfires. Joan Baez lived there with her sister Mimi and Mimi’s husband Richard Fariña and Dylan for a while. I thought they were all so cool. I grew up reading Kerouac, Ginsberg, Brautigan, Braly and Ferlinghetti. It was later I discovered Beats-ploitation books—books that were written to cash in on the whole beatnik craze as it went mainstream. These books were, for the most part, crudely-drawn caricatures of the beatnik scene, but yet there was more of a feeling of what it was really like since these writers were as intent on recreating the whole milieu as they were on any story line. I thought it would be fun to reprint some of them.

SM: Any plans for The Best of Manhunt 3?

JV: It’s a good possibility. There are enough good stories left. Peter Enfantino is pushing for it. He and I are currently working on The Manhunt Companion, a book of capsule reviews of every Manhunt story as well as a complete content list of every issue and various indices. There’s even a list of every TV episode created from Manhunt stories. It’s due out in March of next year.


The Best of Manhunt and The Best of Manhunt 2 are available for purchase in-store and online now.

About Jeff Vorzimmer: Jeff Vorzimmer is the editor of The Best of Manhunt. He spent twenty years at The Austin American-Statesman and is currently a member of the team at Stark House Press. His writing has appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, 2600 and Cool and Strange Music.

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