From: Etienne Borgers (
Date: 19 Jul 2003

Bill, Thanks for the interesting reviews of Pick-Up and Wild Wives. I didn't read them, but in the more recent works by Willeford, my favorite is still "The Shark Infested Custard" this kind of crepuscular noir quartet, West Coast style. Not that I found his Hoke's series an others uninteresting.

Back to 'Pick-Up', I liked your comparison with the mathematical concept of uncertainty in the numbers theory. My mathematics years are far behind me now, but one thing I remember is that any system based on axioms leads always to some paradox(es). The numbers theory is based on axioms (IIRC) As the continuum hypothesis seems very paradoxical by itself, could we say that any novel is axiomatic? I'm practically sure we could… Anyway, the end, as the rest of the story, are in the exclusive hands of the author… constant logic is never a requisite… he's god! So, multiple ends are always possible for a novel and maybe Willeford did it in a low key in Pick-Up, not in an obvious way, because he wanted to manipulate opposite endings?? It's a long shot, I know…

E.Borgers Hard-Boiled Mysteries

At 23:34 14-07-03 -0400, Bill Denton wrote:
>PICK-UP (1955) was the first Charles Willeford novel I ever read,
>We've talked about the famous last two lines of the book. I won't quote
>them, but when you read the book for the first time, they cast everything
>that happened in a new light. This time I looked for clues along the way
>and found one or two, but mostly I was interested at how Willeford
>described people such as Harry's bosses and Big Mike. The last two lines
>seem to me a bit like the Continuum Hypothesis, if you'll allow me a
>mathematical analogy [1]. The Continuum Hypothesis is an important thing
>in set theory and basic math, but it can't be proven true and it can't be
>proven false. Everything works if you assume it's true, and everything
>works if you assume it's false. You could analyze PICK-UP with and
>without the last two lines, and it'd work perfectly both ways. Neither
>version is better than the other.

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