RARA-AVIS: Willeford, hardboiled, and neo-noir

From: Michael Robison ( miker_zspider@yahoo.com)
Date: 08 Oct 2004

Doug Bassett wrote:

...the two volumes of autobiography (I had heard the recent editions of these were poorly edited and typeset, is that true?)

*********** The word "memoirs" is mispelled on the binding. Aside from this, the copy I have is a fairly nice trade paperback.

I snipped the rest of your post but I thought you were right on target with your description of Willeford's philosophy of life as "shaggy dog."

I see THE BURNT ORANGE HERESY as being noir, COCKFIGHTER and MIAMI BLUES as hardboiled, and WILD WIVES both hardboiled and noir. It's all arbitrary.

THE BURNT ORANGE HERESY is by far the best thing I've read by him. I think it's easy to look at WILD WIVES as cheap and sleazy, but I read more into it. I see it as a witty and well-done parody of the noir genre, a cornerstone of neo-noir in the Taboada definition, demanding an irony of style.

If you have any interest in nonfiction, I highly recommend his book of essays, WRITING AND OTHER BLOOD SPORTS. Although I was less than satisfied with his two autobiographies, I would still recommend them as being worth reading. I have a feeling that if I read them again, I'd have a greater appreciation.



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