RARA-AVIS: Willeford/Himes

From: michaelschong@canada.com
Date: 01 Jan 2001

Charles Willeford was an admirer of Chester Himes's work. Two of his articles on Himes in the Writing and Other Blood Sports collection show Willeford's respect. Willeford believed Himes's best novel was not one of his Harlem Domestics. It was Hime's drunken orgy The End of the Primitive. Rara Avians should give it a try.

These two writers both took HB writing through the funk of human nature and created something new. So new, they both did not receive major attention until later in their lives.

Both Willeford and Himes went into crime fiction under strange circumstances. Willeford because an army buddy bet him he couldn't be published and Himes out of desperation an ex-pat struggling in Europe.

Both had cynical perspectives on society and the creatures who inhabit it. Yet, both loved socializing.

Himes wrote the apocalyptic Plan B and killed off his two soul saints. One could kill a rock and the other would bury it. Willeford tried the same with Hoke Moseley in the unpublished Grimhaven or so I've read. I've actually never have had the pleasure of reading a copy. Hoke gets depressed and then kills his children. I wonder how long it took his agent to change his mind...


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