RARA-AVIS: Reading and Himes

Thu, 26 Mar 1998 10:13:58 -0500 I'll put my two cents in. I wouldn't mind reading Cain's Postman. If
we do McCoy, I think Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye is the way to go, though
Horses is great stuff. I'd rather stick closer to the genre than go for
figures like Faulkner et al.

I enjoyed the Himes a lot and have since picked up a few more of his
books. At the same time, let me express some odd feelings of white
guilt over being amused at what a rube Jackson is. The book also seems
to gain energy by its pastiche quality. There's the slapstick, the
trickster/scam story, the gritty realism (the speedball scenes and the
shooting room are especially intense, and, as someone noted, the graphic
and unemotional rendering of the throat cutting), and the superhero
cops. Grave Digger and Coffin Ed gain a lot of power by their absence.
Very charismatic figures--punctuated by their unusual, mantra-like
My understanding is that Himes did not know Harlem well and the vivid
scene is strongly imagined. Also, I thought he viewed his crime novels
as quick knock-offs, far less important than his works like Lonely
Crusade (?) and If He Hollers.
Willeford wrote a short memorial piece on Himes, whom he strongly
admired, which ran I think in the Miami Herald shortly after Himes'
death. (The reference is in the Herron bio.) Incidentally, tomorrow is
the 10th anniversary of Willeford's death.

Doug Levin
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