RARA-AVIS: The Big White Smile

From: Robison Michael R CNIN ( Robison_M@crane.navy.mil)
Date: 22 Jul 2003

Just finished Willeford's essay on JDM in WRITING AND OTHER BLOODSPORTS. I wanted to read it for the JDM month, but it didn't get done.

Willeford has some interesting and entertaining comments on JDM. He teases him wickedly about his sex scenes, stating that they sound like John O'Hara and Vina Delmar reading the Playboy Philosophy and writing from Hemingway's sleeping bag. Well, that's close to what he said. There wasn't much sex in O'Hara's APPOINTMENT IN SAMARRA, so I can't comment on that, and I've never heard of Vina Delmar, but I'm pretty sure the comment about Hemingway's sleeping bag is a reference to the ridiculous scene between Robert Jordan and his "rabbit" in FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS. Willeford also has the audacity to note that Travis's love interests are either big pneumatic
(yes, that's the word he uses) blondes or small brown girls, suggesting that his true preference was for the latter.

"One feels that these short stand-offs with the big girls are added for those male readers who do not particularly care for the small cuddly Brownies."

That's Willeford.

I disagreed with Willeford on several things. Willeford liked Travis's philosophical monologues about young people in THE DEEP BLUE GOODBYE. I think they are superficial, simplistic snobbery. Willeford thought the message of CAPE FEAR was "the veneer of our civilization is as thin as the gold on a rented wedding ring." I don't agree with that, either. Willeford thought the movie sucked. I liked it.

Willeford then went on to tell about how he and his wife got to see JDM at the University of Miami during a promotional tour for the Cape Fear movie. For some reason, I thought it was really cool to know that he was talking about you, Betsy. JDM said that good writing deals with morals, and when a professor asked him about all the sex and violence in his books, JDM said that sex and violence is a moral problem in the States. Suspecting he'd been hoodwinked, the professor suggested that perhaps JDM was trying to have it both ways. JDM answered, "Yes. That's the way we have it in the United States - both ways."


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