Friday, July 2, 2010
Kiss Tomorrow Good-bye by Horace McCoy
I don't often mention a book with the caveat "save your money" at the end of the title, but this time I am. McCoy's "Kiss" is a famous novel that later became a James Cagney movie, and I liked the movie so much that I bought the book when the opportunity arose. It was awesome and totally spectacular... until the end. I don't want to go into too much detail about the misadventures of Ralph Cotter because it would give too much away, but I think McCoy rushed the ending and robbed readers of a more satisfying finish. Maybe he ran out of typing paper, and his deadline wouldn't allow a quick run to the Typing Paper Store for more, so he used what he had to rush the ending and mailed off the manuscript and mixed some Captain and Coke.
Other than the ending, it's a fine book. McCoy's writing is sharp, the characters well-drawn, and the first chapter grabs you by the throat, but I really wish it hadn't been ruined by the ending.
Endings are important, because, as Mickey Spillane has pointed out, the ending sells an author's next book. Harry Whittington called a story's ending the punch line, and if it wasn't worth the trip, the audience may not listen to your next joke.
Oh, well. "Kiss Tomorrow Good-bye" is another classic of the hard-boiled school I can check off my list, at least.