RARA-AVIS: The Woman Chaser / The High Priest Of California

From: Graham Powell ( bleekerbooks@hotmail.com)
Date: 03 Sep 2003

I'm a little late for Willeford month, but a couple of weeks ago I found brand new copies of his THE WOMAN CHASER and THE HIGH PRIEST OF CALIFORNIA / WILD WIVES remaindered at the local half price store. I've finished CHASER and I'm halfway through HIGH PRIEST and I can't help but notice some similarities between the narrators of each:

One is named Russell Haxby, the other is named Richard Hudson.

Both are used car salesmen.

Each have a mother married to a Hollywood producer.

Haxby lives in San Francisco; Hudson just moved from there.

I can't help wondering if Willeford had some more ideas involving the character from HIGH PRIEST but couldn't use the same person.

And of course I've left out the biggest similarity: despite the fact that both men are intelligent and cultured, with interests in art, literature, and music, neither feels constrained by the normal taboos of society.


Haxby sets out to seduce a married woman, mostly for fun. He beats people up with little provocation (in one case, just to make himself feel better). Hudson sleeps with his teenage stepsister and is rather brutal to her, and gets his secretary pregnant, then beats her when she wants an abortion.

Normally people like Haxby and Hudson would seem like real go-getters, men on their way up, etc., and I think Willeford was trying to show that violence and irrationality can live inside of anyone.


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