RARA-AVIS: _The Burnt Orange Heresy_

William Denton (buff@vex.net)
Wed, 1 Jul 1998 18:02:25 -0400 (EDT) On Thu, 2 Jul 1998, Maki Nakada wrote:

: But this week, I've expcted to read lively discussions about THE
: BURNT ORANGE HERESY. Chales Willevord is one of my favorite great
: writers and I believe THE BURNT ORANGE HERESY is his masterpiece.

I don't know which one I consider his masterpiece, but this could well
be it. Don't be shy about talking about him - what do you think makes
it so great? And are there translations of Willeford's books into

A couple of things I like about the book:

- the bit about not wanting Berenice to take drags off his cigarette.
In university I smoked Camels, and other people saw them as a tasty
party treat and would ask me for a drag. I didn't like them
dribbling their saliva all over my smokes, and I also didn't like the
way it interrupted the oneness of a unit of cigarette. I did my best
to memorize James' speech and used it often. It worked.

- the knowledge Willeford has about the art world, painting, dealing
and criticism. It's amazing the things he knows. Cockfighting,
selling cars, making movies, marketing silver flatware - you expect
crime writers to know about cops, but putting over a fake "Nihilstic
Surrealist" artist, complete with body of criticism, takes real
talent. I've lent the book to a couple of artists and they loved it.

And then there's the plot, which is very ingenious, and the writing,
which is perfect Willeford.

One thing I can't recall: the earlier fire, which supposedly burned
up all of Debierue's work, did that happen just after the previous
critic visited the painter, or did Debierue do it himself to cover up
the lack of paintings? And why would Figueras think Debierue actually
sat in his studio four hours a day, trying to paint, when it seems
obvious to me that he hadn't done a stitch of work since "No. One,"
which took him two minutes?


William Denton | Toronto, Canada | http://www.vex.net/~buff/ | Caveat lector.
            "Let's keep the party polite."

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