Re: RARA-AVIS: Out of Sight/Willeford's Burnt Orange

Greg Swan (
Wed, 22 Jul 1998 15:39:06 -0700 Mario Taboada wrote:
> In a sense, Figueras is an
> automaton, guided only by his ambition and a very restricted form of
> reason. His cheating by trying to paint the thing himself when there was
> no Debierue to be had is done with no hesitation.

In the first half of the book, Figueras spends a great deal of time painting
his own mental picture of Debieru. I particularly enjoyed the scene where
he finally comes face-to-face with Debieru and discovers his mental picture
is nothing like the man. Willeford has a superior command of character
nuance and detail. So, he's playing to one of his most important strengths
in describing the reality of Debieru. Just try to put the book down while
reading this chapter.

>From imaginary painters, we move to imaginary paintings. Willeford appears
to be promoting the idea that critics write largely about themselves.
(Perhaps based on his own experiences?) That's probably why Figueras
eventually has to paint his own painting and can't simply go with the blank
canvas, promoting it as the ultimate in unrealized art. Instead, Figueras
is driven to paint himself. Remember, Figueras tells us the painting stands
for Debieru's self. And, since Debieru is a construct created by Figueras,
the painting is really Figueras' self portrait. When his girlfriend sees
the painting and calls it a horrible, ugly thing, she's really talking about
Figueras. Figueras kills her for what she knows about him, not for what she
knows about the painting. IMHO. This isn't your average noir novel of


Greg Swan

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