Re: RARA-AVIS: Willeford as god of noir

From: jacquesdebierue (
Date: 07 Oct 2007

--- In, "Channing" <filmtroll@...> wrote:

> 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 a longtime fan and have recommended Willeford to many friends and acquaintances... and the conclusion seems to be that people who mainly read straight mysteries don't connect well with Willeford, while those who read all sorts of things, especially avant-garde literature, love him. An example: a friend who is a fan of Calvino, Borges, Queneau and similarly ironic writers (and not a reader of mysteries, hardboiled or not) thought that Willeford was a master writer after I lent him The Woman Chaser. He even returned it promptly, as an unheard of gesture of gratitude, and proceeded to buy his own Willefords.

Maybe Willeford doesn't have that many readers, but how many readers does Nathanael West have? Or Faulkner? People know "about" these authors, but other than a smattering at school (perhaps), I don't think they're much read. And the complete short stories of Nabokov
(mostly gold) were remaindered a few months after they came out. I know because I bought a remaindered copy. Willeford might do OK simply by word of mouth.



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