Stephen King? Robert Bloch? Bennett Cerf? Gahan Wilson?
Dear Quote Investigator: A famous horror writer employed a comically gruesome paraprosdokian when discussing temperament. There are many phrasings for this quip. Here is one:
I have the heart of a child. I keep it in a jar on my desk.
This joke has been attributed to Stephen King and Robert Bloch. Would you please explore this topic?
Quote Investigator: Stephen King has employed this line on multiple occasions. However, when he delivered it during a speech at a library in 1983 he credited Robert Bloch.
The earliest match known to QI appeared in the “San Francisco Chronicle” in 1945. A book reviewer using the initials A. B. complimented Bloch’s originality. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1
His specialty is a grisly gag-sense, best exemplified by his answer to a reader who expressed surprise at his turning from horror to humor. “But I’m a very un-horrible person,” Bloch protested. “I have the heart of a small boy—I keep it on my desk, in a jar.”
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.
- 1945 November 4, San Francisco Chronicle, Section: This World, Among the New Books (Review by A. B. of Robert Bloch’s “The Opener of the Way”), Quote Page 17, Column 3, San Francisco, California. (GenealogyBank) ↩