The folks at Open Road Integrated Media have re-released Horace McCoy’s seminal noir novel, Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye. This 1948 novel was said to have had a major influence on Jim Thompson in his first-person novels which delved deep into the criminal mind. They have also reissued McCoy’s other acclaimed work, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?
Here’s a little rundown on Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye and on McCoy himself, provided by Open Road Integrated Media. There’s also a brief excerpt. And for those of you who are interested, I reviewed this novel on this website some time back. You can check it out here.
McCoy’s hardboiled noir classic, about an Ivy League graduate’s criminal rampage through the seedy underground and glitzy high society of an unnamed American city
To escape prison, Ralph Cotter uses the same genius for planning and penchant for cold-hearted violence that helped earn him a spot in the slammer in the first place. On the lam in a city where he knows nobody, Cotter has nothing to lose, no conscience to hold him back, and no limit to his twisted ambition. But in the midst of a criminal spree, a grift leads him to the boudoir of wealthy heiress Margaret Dobson, a woman with the power to peel back the rotten layers of his psyche and reveal the damaged soul beneath.
Vicious and thrilling, Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye is a look at one man’s relentless attack on American society, conjuring one of the most memorable antiheros of twentieth-century noir fiction.
This ebook features an extended biography of Horace McCoy.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Horace Stanley McCoy (1897-1955) was an American author whose hardboiled novels documented Americans’ hardships during the Depression and post-war periods. His most famous work, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, was made into a film starring Jane Fonda and directed by Sidney Pollack.McCoy was born on April 14, 1897, in Pegram, Tennessee, and grew up in Nashville. His father was a traveling salesman, and the family didn’t have much money. Although he was an avid reader, McCoy never finished high school. After a move to Dallas, Texas, he joined his father in sales at age sixteen.McCoy worked as a traveling salesman through his teens, then joined the United States Army Air Corps. During World War I, he flew missions in France as a navigator and aerial photographer. He earned the Croix de Guerre from the French government after piloting a plane safely home despite suffering two bullet wounds. After the war, McCoy returned to Dallas and took up journalism. As a reporter, he exaggerated and invented details to make his stories more interesting, leading to frequent dismissals from Dallas papers. During this time he also met and married his first wife, Loline Sherer, with whom he had one son. He would later divorce and marry twice more, and had two children with his third wife, Helen Vinmont. By the mid-1920s, McCoy’s interest in storytelling led him to publish his first fiction. Through the 1930s, he published more than a dozen crime and detective stories in Black Mask, a popular monthly pulp fiction magazine that was also printing the work of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett at the time.In 1931, McCoy moved to Hollywood to try his hand at acting. Though he failed to gain much notice as a leading man, the author did have some success writing script scenarios for the big studios. One such project described characters participating in a dance marathon; that scenario became the basis of his first novel, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1935). The novel distills many hallmarks of McCoy’s writing, including a tough style, wry observations of class disparity in the 1930s, and a hard look at the dehumanizing effects of poverty. They Shoot Horses fared better with European audiences than with American readers, a trend that McCoy would see throughout his writing career.After the publication of They Shoot Horses, McCoy returned to screenwriting, churning out scripts for successful westerns such as The Trail of the Lonesome Pine and brooding noirs such as Persons in Hiding. He also continued writing novels, most notably Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (1948), considered one of his best. That same year, McCoy suffered a mild heart attack. Though he resumed working, his health declined and in 1955, he died of a third heart attack while at home in Beverly Hills.
THIS IS HOW IT is when you wake up in the morning of the morning you have waited a lifetime for: there is no waking state. You are all at once wide awake, so wide awake that it seems you have slipped all the opiatic degrees of waking, that you have had none of the sense-impressions as your soul again returns to your body from wherever it has been; you open your eyes and you are completely awake, as if you had not been asleep at all. That is how it was with me. This was the morning it was going to happen, and I lay there trembling with accumulated excitement and wishing it would happen now and be done with, this instant, consuming nervous energy that I should have been saving for the climax, knowing full well that it could not possibly happen for another hour, maybe another hour and a half, till around five-thirty. It was now only a little after four. It was still so dark I could not see anything distinctly, but I could tell by the little of the morning that I could smell that it was only a little after four. Not much of the morning could get into the place where I was, and the portions that did were always pretty well mauled and no wonder: they had to fight their way in through a single window at the same time a solid shaft of stink was going out. This was a prison barracks where seventy-two unwashed men slept chained to their bunks, and when the individual odors of seventy-two unwashed men finally gather into one pillar of stink you have got a pillar of stink the like of which you cannot conceive; majestic, nonpareil, transcendental, K. But it never intimidated that early morning. Ever indomitable, it always came back, and always a little of it got through to me. I was always awake to greet these fragments, hungrily smelling what little freshness they had left by the time they got back to me, smelling them frugally, in careful precious sniffs, letting them dig in the vaults of my memory, letting them uncover early morning sounds of a lifetime ago: bluejays and woodpeckers and countless other birds met like medieval knights and thrusting at each other with long sharp lances of song, the crowings of roosters, the brassy bleats of hungry sheep and the mooing of cows, saying, “No-o-o hay, No-o-o milk”, that is what my grandfather said they were saying and my grandfather knew. He knew everything there was to know about everything that was completely unimportant. He knew the names of all Hadrian’s mistresses and the real reason, hushed-up by the historians, why Richard took the Third Crusade off to the Holy Land and the week the Alaskan reindeers would mate and the hours of the high tides of Nova Scotia; my grandfather knew everything except how to run the farm, lying there deep in the featherbed in the side room where Longstreet once spent the night, buried under the quilts that hid me from old John Brown of Osawatomie, dead and gone these many years, but who, they said, still clumped the foothills of the Gap gathering up disobedient little boys; smelling the morning and hearing the sounds, smelling and hearing, hiding from old John Brown (but hiding from something else too, although I did not then know what it was), frightened with little-boy fright (which, I also was to find out, was not so annihilative as grown-man fright), waiting for the daylight.
The darkness began to fade slowly at the window, and a few men turned over, rattling their chains, waking up; but you did not need these noises to tell you that there was movement any more than any other wild animal needs noises to tell him there is movement; the pillar of stink which had been lying in laminae like the coats of an onion was now being peeled and a little of everybody was everywhere. There was coughing and grunting and hawking and much spitting, and then the man in the next bunk, Budlong, a skinny sickly sodomist, turned on his side facing me and said in a ruttish voice: I had another dream about you last night, sugar.
It will be your last, you Caresser of Calves, I thought.
“Was it as nice as the others?” I asked.
“Nicer,” he said.
“You’re sweet. I adore you,” I said, feeling a fine fast exhilaration that today was the day that I was going to kill him, that I was finally going to kill him as soon as I got my hands on those pistols I was going to kill him. I hope Holiday knows what the hell about those pistols, I thought; I hope they’re where they’re supposed to be, I hope Cobbett doesn’t let us down. Cobbett was the clerk of the farm who doubled on Sundays as the guard in the visitors’ cage, an old man who had spent his life as a chain-gang andprison-farm guard, now too feeble to have a squad of his own, and pensioned off to sinecures. He had taken a shine to Holiday the first time she had come to visit us, and from then on he had been less and less strict in the matter of her visiting hours, and now she had gotten him to help us make the break. He was to have met her last night and got the pistols and stashed them for us. They were to be sealed in an inner tube and hidden in the irrigation ditch that ran along the upper end of the cantaloupe patch where we were working. The exact spot of their submergence was to be marked with a rock the size of a human head, on which there would be a dab of white paint, placed in line with the pistols but on the other side of the ditch where it would be less likely to attract attention. This was all that Cobbett had to do. I hoped he had done it. If he had, if the pistols were there I was going to kill this swine Budlong, as sure as God made little apples I was going to kill him.
All of a sudden the door banged open and there was Harris, the sergeant, standing in the gloom no eyes, no nose, no mouth, just a great big hunk of obscene flesh standing there in the doorway with his arm hooked under a Winchester, yelling for us to hit the deck. Always he stood there in the same way and always he yelled the same thing and always the prisoners in the rear of the barracks called him the same names. But I never called him names. I was too busy being glad that the door was finally open. I lay there waiting for him to come and take the manacles off my ankles, and the fresh morning rushed through the door like children coming into the living-room on Christmas morning.