RARA-AVIS: Woolrich & etc.

From: Moorich2@aol.com
Date: 25 Apr 2000

I am a sucker for Woolrich except in his most purple stages. My all time favorite is RENDEZVOUS IN BLACK, which was a reprise of the basic plot device of THE BRIDE WORE BLACK. While BRIDE is far better known and is very good, I believe RENDEZVOUS is much superior. The similar plot frame is even more unlikely in RENDEZVOUS but works better as it illustrates more dramatically the randomness of fate and sudden interruption of normality. It is also Woolrich at his most merciless as the reader's sympathies are pushed and pulled all over the map. I sympathize and cheer for the lead character in the beginning chapters and then gradually view him with complete horror. It also has what to me has always been a classic opening, a gut-writer on a great riff. The opening pages as well as a brief discription of a train carrying home the coffins of dead soldiers are to me Woolrich at his emotional, florid best.

PHANTOM LADY is almost as good. It does tail off in quality at the end. Woolrich wrote some very silly novels but these are two that work very well. Some of his short stories are also of very high quality, including some of his very last work such as "New York Blues."

It was unexpected to read a good notice of my fellow Georgian Harry Crews. Admittedly a cultivated taste, I have liked his work from his first novel THE GOSPEL SINGER. That one takes place in Enigma, Georgia, a town I know pretty well. It's midway between Tifton and Willacoochee. I've also been to Mystic, Georgia, setting for A FEAST OF SNAKES. If anyone is planning a holiday, there are other towns in Georgia with better rattlesnake roundups than Mystic. Personally I prefer the chitlin' festival in Climax, Georgia. I've enjoyed every trip through there.

Richard Moore

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