Re: RARA-AVIS: Willeford as god of noir

From: Channing (
Date: 06 Oct 2007

> Don Lee wrote:
> I thought COCKFIGHTER (which I read about 3 weeks ago)
> was really really good. However, it struck me only
> after I had finished it to wonder, why is this noir?
> I mean, it is and it isn't, maybe.
> ****************
> I don't see it as noir. Maybe I would if I was a
> chicken.
> miker

That's one of the things that makes Willeford great, he didn't care about standard mystery/noir conventions. He's an original with a powerful voice who did things his own way. His best books are grimly funny despite their bleak subject matter.

I'm in the minority, but I loved SHARK INFESTED CUSTARD. It doesn't have much plot, but it's a darkly comic snapshot of the death of the Swinging 70's. His four main characters are just living their life and bad things happen to them with funny/tragic results.

Willeford's Hoke Mosely books are wonderful as well. They inverted many of Chandler's themes about the lone hero. Hoke was one of the first Cop/Detectives novels where the family story gets as much weight as the crime solving. Hoke is literally toothless,and beaten down by his life and his job, but he keeps clocking in because he has to.

I think the idea that COCKFIGHTER was based on The Odyssey is a Willeford joke. I can't recall any events in the book that mirror Homer. No cyclopses, no sirens, no guys turned into swine. Lots of Cockfighting action though.

The COCKFIGHTER movie is also pretty good with Willeford appearing in a minor role.


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