I met Ernie Poodle after living with him in the same building for two years in Berlin. He was the quiet type, only saying hello when we passed on the stairs when he absolutely couldn’t avoid it, and I didn’t know he was an American like me until a neighbor told me (he came from Cincinnati). He lodged on the top floor with a divorced mother, Frau Schmal, and her young daughter Conni.
Ernie's 1st ebook: I Hate My Cat
He earned his living translating German computer, business and legal texts into English. In his off-time he wrote. He never talked about it and even Frau Schmal didn’t know much about his writing (Conni knew more, as it turns out).
After he died of a heart attack in 2010 — he was 56 and had a weight problem — the Schmals found a huge stash of finished, unfinished and half-finished Texts — a dozen novels, hundreds of short stories (most of them very short — only a few pages).
His style is minimalistic - simple and colloquial, even anti-literary — but the stories themselves are not what they appear. The word “bizarre” comes to mind, as does “puzzling” (see “What is Weirdcore?”), sometimes also “nonsense” and in some cases even “pornographic”.
The Schmals approached me (we no longer lived in the same house and had lost contact) and asked me for help getting the best texts published. I quickly realized that the average print publisher would never be able to do this. So I remembered my old idea of founding a micropublisher, and we decided to publish the best Ernie Poodle-Texts (after a rather lengthy editorial phase, it turned out) as e-books.
Once, while he still lived, Conni asked him why he never tried to get his stuff published. He said he didn’t want his family back home in Cincinnati to know what he was doing or where he lived. That’s all he said — but it said everything. We decided to respect his wish for anonymity and to use a Pseudonym that we found among his notes: “Ernie Poodle”.
No worries, Ernie, those bastards back in Cincinnati will never know.
- Eric T. Hansen