Posthumous publication from James A. Rock & Co., Publishers. Produced in a numbered limited edition of 276 hardcovers and 1,500 soft covers.
Shortly before his death Rex Stout authorized the editor to include the Nero Wolfe novella, "Bitter End" (American Magazine, 1940), the first Stout novella and which had not been republished in his own novella collections. It is a re-working of the Tecumseh Fox book, Bad for Business (1940). "Bitter End" was also included in Death Times Three (1977).
Corsage also includes an interview Michael Bourne conducted with Stout (July 18, 1973; also available on audiocassette tape), and a reprinting of "Why Nero Wolfe Likes Orchids," originally published in Life Magazine (April 19, 1963).
"Bitter End" opens with Wolfe's vile experience with a poisoned jar of Tingley's Tidbits.
Rex Todhunter Stout was born December 1, 1886, in Noblesville, Indiana, but the family moved to Kansas when Stout was one, according to Stout 'because I was fed up with Indiana politics.' Stout was involved seriously with politics throughout his life, an outspoken liberal, no doubt because of his Quaker heritage. Through World War II, Stout was the head of The Writers' War Board, and for years Stout was involved with other organizations dedicated to world government and peace, and was president of The Author's Guild.
Stout was writing from his youth on, but worked at other things, usually involving the managing of money. In 1912, Stout invented a savings program which started bank days in schools throughout the nation and encouraged children to open savings accounts. Banks paid Stout a commission for every depositor, enough for Stout to retire with $400,000 in 1927 and go to Paris to write.
The series of psychological novels, starting with 'How Like a God" in 1929, were critically but not financially successful. Stout oft quoted Samuel Johnson: "Only a blockhead would write except for money." And so, Stout created Nero Wolfe, or as Stout said "Nero Wolfe just appeared" in 1934, and for 40 years thereafter the Nero Wolfe series was a success indeed, enabling Stout to do whatever he wanted to do-and he did.
This special edition was intended as a 89th birthday tribute to a living great. Now it's a memorial.
Michael Bourne is a journalist and broadcaster living in Bloomington, Indiana and is a candidate for a doctorate in Theatre at Indiana University. He is a confirmed Stout-ophile and an aspiring mystery writer.
[MICHAEL BOURNE ADDENDUM: Since 1984 Michael Bourne has served as a DJ for New York City's NPR jazz station, WBGO 88.3 FM. He is well known to music lovers throughout the Metropolitan area.]
FROM THE FLY LEAF:
CORSAGE -- A BOUQUET OF REX STOUT AND NERO WOLFE
- BITTER END -- A NERO WOLFE NOVEL (sic) BY REX STOUT
- AN INFORMAL INTERVIEW WITH REX STOUT -- An interview of Rex Stout by Michael Bourne
- WHY NERO WOLFE LIKES ORCHIDS -- by ARCHIE GOODWIN
EDITED BY MICHAEL BOURNE
ILLUSTRATED BY SID WRIGHT JR.
"That will do, Archie." Wolfe put down his empty glass. I had never heard his tone more menacing. "I am not impressed with your failure to understand this abominable outrage. I might bring myself to tolerate it if some frightened or vindictive person shot me to death, but this is insupportable." He made the growling noise again. "My food. You know my attitude toward food." He aimed a rigid finger at the jar, and his voice trembled with ferocity. "Whoever put that in there is going to regret it." [Nero Wolfe, recovering from his taste of quinine-spiked liver pâté, pp. 3–4]
"I have never regarded myself as a feast for the eye, my attractions run more to the spiritual, but on the other hand I am not a toad, and I resented her expression." [Archie Goodwin, page 45]
A nicely plotted Wolfe outing in which Wolfe ascertains the truth by keen observation of subtle clues. What starts as outrage over bitter liver pâté leads Archie and Nero to a violent murder and complicated business-family secrets. [goodreads.com]