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McCabe, Cameron

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years, 1 month ago

Cameron McCabe was the pseudonym used by Ernst Wilhelm Julius Bornemann (April 12, 1915 – June 4, 1995) for The Face on the Cutting-Room Floor (1937), a mannered but influential detective novel.


Bornemann was born and raised in Berlin, and says he was "sexually mature at fourteen, politically mature at fifteen, and intellectually mature between fourteen and sixteen". As a pupil he made the acquaintance of Bertolt Brecht and also worked at the counselling centre for workers established by Wilhelm Reich's Socialist Association for Sexual Counselling and Research, an organisation the latter had removed from Vienna to Berlin in 1930. As a ten-year-old, at the world's fair in Paris, France, he had seen musicians from Congo who had fascinated him. He went to concerts in his native Berlin as soon as they would let him in, listening, among others, to Marlene Dietrich, the Weintraub Syncopators and jazz saxophonist Sidney Bechet. A distant relative, the ethnomusicologist Erich von Hornbostel, introduced him to his field of study, and after school Borneman attended Hornbostel's lectures and on weekends helped out in his archive. It was Hornbostel who finally initiated Borneman into the world of jazz.


A member of the Communist Party of Germany, Bornemann was forced to leave the country in 1933, after the Nazis had come to power. He was smuggled out of the country posing as a member of the Hitler Youth on his way to England as an exchange student. On arriving in England, where he sought, and was granted, political asylum, he anglicized his first name to Ernest and his family name to Borneman. At the time he hardly spoke any English. In 1937, Gollancz published Borneman's "detective story to end detective stories" (Julian Symons), a novel entitled The Face on the Cutting-Room Floor, which he had completed before turning twenty. Between then and 1968, Borneman wrote six crime novels, all of them in English.


During his London years Borneman was preoccupied with jazz, both theoretically and practically. He went to all concerts of famous musicians touring Britain such as Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway. He played the piano, double bass and drums himself and even went to sea playing in dance bands on transatlantic cruise ships. At home in London, he spent countless hours in the British Museum Reading Room and at other institutions of learning. His notes on the origins and the development of jazz grew steadily, and in 1940 he sent the first version of his study, a 580 page typescript entitled "Swing Music. An Encyclopaedia of Jazz" to Melville J. Herskovits, then the most prominent U.S. anthropologist specializing in African American studies.


During the final decades of his life Borneman lived in Scharten, Upper Austria. On learning about Borneman's assertion that there had been a marked decline in sexual activity among German couples, fellow sexologist Ingelore Ebberfeld sarcastically remarked that Borneman may have been jumping to conclusions and talking about his own sex life rather than that of his compatriots. Ebberfeld pointed out that in old age Borneman had married again—"a young, sexually potent wife" ("the biggest mistake an elderly man can make") whom, she insinuated, Borneman may find difficult to satisfy.


When Borneman committed suicide in 1995, shortly after his 80th birthday, it was rumoured that impotence may actually have been at least one of his reasons for killing himself.




The Face on the Cutting-Room Floor (1937)

Tremolo (1948)

Face the Music

The Compromisers (1962)

Tomorrow Is Now

The Man Who Loved Women (aka Landscape with Nudes) (1968)

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