London: Duckworth. Very Good+ in Very Good+ dj. 1940. First Edition. Hardcover. NOISBN . [light shelfwear to bottom edge, very light spotting on fore-edge, minor offsetting to endpapers; jacket has some spotting (foxing) on spine, still quite attractive]. The Scottish writer's very scarce second book (following his debut novel, "Time Will Knit," blurbed on the rear jacket panel of this volume), containing nineteen examples of his work in the short-story form, where his talents shone most brightly. Friendly with George Orwell (who praised his work) and Rhys Davies, Urquhart, as a pacifist, declared himself a conscientious objector upon the outbreak of World War II, and as a result was sent to work on the land for the duration. Following the war, he worked in various jobs -- as a reader for a literary agency, a script-reader for M-G-M, and a book reviewer for various journals -- while continuing to write and publish both novels and short stories. As a gay writer, Urquhart showed a particular sensitivity in his fiction to what we would today call "women's issues," often through his depiction of the violence visited upon them. The title story of this collection -- in which he adopts a woman's narrative voice to tell of her romantic interlude with a sailor on leave, in pointed and poignant contrast with the typically unromantic treatment she endures from her regular boyfriend -- is a good example of this aspect of his work, and the obvious gay overtones its title hardly need mentioning. Another notable (and hilarious) tale in this volume is "Cleopatra Had Nothing On," narrated by an uncouth American film director, Gus Von Valdron, who's died and gone to Hell; once he's been introduced around, he sets out to make a film of the Book of Genesis, adapted for the screen by his new Underworld acquaintances, among them Bill Shakespeare, Tommy Hardy, Willie Thackeray and Charlie Dickens. He scores a casting coup by casting God (on a weekend visit from Heaven) as Himself (with Cleopatra as Eve), but discovers that the Almighty is as temperamental as any other actor; he also has to contend with a competing production (by the British colony) in which Queen Victoria has taken the role of God. (My favorite line in the story comes when the Angel Gabriel -- part of God's contingent -- greets the Devil in overly-familiar terms, and is admonished: "Don't call me Lucy. Folk'll think I'm a sissy.") [This item is featured in ReadInk's E-Catalog 3.1, which can be perused in full at our website. (Not everything in that catalog is listed on whatever site you're seeing this.)] . (Inventory #: 20060)
Unusual, Uncommon and Obscure Books in many (but not all) fields, with particular interest in American Culture (Popular and Unpopular), Art, Literature, Life and People from the 1920s through the 1960s.
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