RARA-AVIS: Something About A Soldier

From: Moorich2@aol.com
Date: 27 Jan 2001

The two memoirs I WAS LOOKING FOR A STREET and SOMETHING ABOUT A SOLDIER are two of my favorite Willefords. Like Bill, I have always regretted that he did not leave a similar book that covered the World War II years.

STREET was a real surprise to me as I collect hobo books (such as Jim Tully's BEGGARS OF LIFE) and I ordered it because of the author and without any idea that he had spent part of his boyhood on the road and rails.

SOLDIER resonated even more with me as I spent some time in the Army including a year in Vietnam. While there are differences, it has always fascinated me that no matter what era covered there are tremendous similarities in military life. I absolutely agree that it is a good companion work to James Jones' FROM HERE TO ETERNITY, another book that has the true feel of life in a barracks. Living in close quarters. pulling duty, outsmarting the officers and sergeants, escaping off base for a bit of release---these are things that probably have not changed since the days of the Roman Legions. Willeford captures that life perfectly.

When I pulled down my copy of SOLDIER, I found the one letter I had from Charles Willeford dated 15 January 1987. I had written him after reading MIAMI BLUES to tell him how much I enjoyed it. He full of plans and noted that after writing for 40 years he might be becoming "an overnight success." Here was a guy clearly enjoying life and I wish he had had a few more years.

At the end, he invited me to call him if I ever got to Miami and we'd have a drink. I really meant to do that and regret very much that I didn't manage the trip in time.

Richard Moore

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