Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Horace McCoy (more abt his works))

From: Etienne Borgers (
Date: 27 Jan 2002

To document further the difficulties Horace McCoy had to publish some of his most interesting novels in the USA, I copy here two messages I sent to a R-A thread concerning these facts in April 99.

- 1.- NO POCKETS IN A SHROUD is a very good novel, one of the greats by McCoy. But there is a problem...

Nobody in America wanted to publish McCoy's novel when it was ready in 1936, because he was taking on toughly on the "news" establishment with politically incorrect problems for the USA of the time, like: racism, fascism, and of course public corruption, addressed in the book. Finally a publisher in Europe (UK) issued the book in 1937, and I think it was translated rather quickly into French as well. Only in 1948 a "purged" and mutilated version was published in the USA.

McCoy was vilified by the critics in the USA and despised as being vulgar, crude... well, you see the motto.

There was a (in)famous article by Edmund Wilson that compared him to James Cain and concluded that he was way inferior...! Don't believe it neither. When in 1948 KISS TOMORROW GOOD BYE was published, the American critics circus started all over again...

In 1952, a novelization of a script was not published because McCoy refused to make the cuts and modifications requested by the American publishers. That was: THIS IS DYNAMITE. Marcel Duhamel of Serie Noire, one of the early supporters of McCoy's novels in France, accepted it and was published there in 1953. It was finally published in the USA in 1959 under the title: CORRUPTION CITY.

Horace McCoy is one of the best American (HB/Noir) writers, by any standard; just read it to be convinced. Stay away from the American critics of his time, that could be echoed in later "literary" valuations of his work.

But try to find the complete version of NO POCKETS IN A SHROUD... E.B.
- 2.- After an exchange on R-A of totally contradictory valuations of KISS TOMORROW GOOD-BYE, novel for which I (and others) was a supporter:

---Bill Crider <> wrote:

> As for the two versions of KISS TOMORROW GOOD-BYE,
they certainly exist. I
> have copies of both the 1940s Signet paperback,
which appears to be a
> severely abridged version, and the hardcover

Thanks for the confirmation. By reading the thread I had the impression (probably wrong) it was not established as a fact.

The existence of two different versions could perhaps, as I suggested, be one of the reasons why the novel was so differently appreciated. E.B.

E.Borgers Hard-Boiled Mysteries

--- Etienne Borgers <> wrote:
> To add to Richard Moore's details about H.McCoy's
> life
> and works:
> He was one of the successful writers of "Black Mask"
> (starting there end 1927) but his success came
> mostly
> from a series with Jerry Frost sort of ace pilot of
> a
> squadron named "Hell's Stepson's".
> Due to the disaster of the Depression he lost his
> job
> as a journalist. and went to Hollywood in 1931,
> where
> he appeared in small parts for a few films (I didn't
> find traces about which ones)

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