French novelist and playwright, a jazz connoisseur and critic, Dixieland trumpeter, and author of more than 400 songs. As a writer Boris Vian is perhaps best remembered for his novels L'écume des jours
(1947) and J'irai cracher sur vos tombes
(1946, I Spit on Your Graves
). Vian's collected works amount to more than 50 vols. He died in a Parisian cinema at the age of 39 while watching a preview of the film I Spit on Your Graves
. It was a story of an American black named Lee Anderson on the run. He has avenged the lynching of his younger, darker brother by raping and killing white girls. He is caught, and hanged, his sex, according to Vian, mocking his murderers to the last.
"What informs Vian's book, however, is not sexual fantasy, but rage and pain: that rage and pain which Vian (almost alone) was able to hear in the black American musicians, in the bars, dives, and cellars, of the Paris of those years... Vian would have known something of this from Faulkner, and from Richard Wright, and from Chester Himes, but he heard it in the music, and, indeed, he saw it in the streets." (James Baldwin in The Devil Finds Work