‘The Hobby’ by Eric McCormack

It is an embarrassing indictment of my lack of literary curiosity that I don’t know more about Eric McCormack, because ‘The Hobby’ really is one my favourite stories. I know he’s Canadian, I just looked up his age, and I’m sure I read one of his novels – it didn’t dazzle me, I’m afraid – but beyond that he is a mystery. I found ‘The Hobby’ through ace editor Michele Slung, who put the story in Stranger, a neat anthology in which she generously included a tale of my own. I quote from Michele’s on-the-mark intro to ‘The Hobby’ therein: ‘Each time I read it, I discover something new; always when I finish it, I gasp.’The story can’t run to more than 2,000 words, but oh, how McCormack makes every one of those beautiful words count. On the surface, ‘The Hobby’ is a compact, Twilight Zone-ish effort, with the requisite twist, but the more you think about it, the more wondrous and disturbing it gets. It plays an intricate, clever game with point of view, rewarding the attentive reader with a money shot for which Rod Serling would have traded a year’s worth of Marlboros.

I gotta go find out more about this wonderful writer. One of these days…

First published in Inspecting the Vaults, Viking Canada, 1987, and collected in Stranger: Dark Tales of Eerie Encounters, edited by Michele Slung, Harper Perennial, 2002