The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

December 31, 2015

December 31, 1916

Helen Eustis (December 31, 1916 to January 11, 2015) was a writer, of detective fiction, and short stories. She also translated a number of books from the French, authors such as Georges Simenon.

Her father was Harold Clayton Eustis , a "socially prominent stockbroker." Her mother died when Helen was quite young, and her father remarried quickly to a war widow. Eustis graduated from Smith College in 1938 obtaining a degree in English literature. And a husband, who had been her professor there at Smith.

According to her New York Times obituary

She soon began publishing short stories and working on “The Horizontal Man,” a mystery in which a philandering English professor is murdered at a small college replete with psychologically unstable students and professors. At the same time her marriage to Professor Fisher deteriorated and they divorced.

Critics often notice the similarity between her life and her first book. Nobody remembers that also her father killed himself on December 3, 1945. My only point is that it was a complex and confusing time, at the war's end. There was a blossoming of themes in the literature of the period dealing with psychology as a problem and a solution. The Horizontal Man is an erudite contribution to this cultural exploration. In this novel Eustis may present the first instance of the adjective Kafkaesque. Her title derives from a  line of 
Auden's poetry.

A large tortoise-shell cat has a bit part in the plot: rubbing up against the ankles of a man who secretly follows the character most like the author, in the story; the cat frightens off the fellow who is startled and confused by this touch.

A later novel Eustis wrote, The Fool Killer (1954) was made into movie with Anthony Perkins (1965).


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