RARA-AVIS: The Shark Infested Custard

From: Jay Gertzman ( jgertzma@earthlink.net)
Date: 23 Jan 2008

> I'd also say it's not entirely typical of
> Willeford's work.
The earlier pulp novels, and _The Burnt Orange Heresy_, often featured a person with no sense of obligations to people, a kind of "psycho" completely devoted to his own self-interest. He was also an artist who had total contempt for publishers, editors, producers, and critics who wanted to revise or suppress the subversive energy in the protagonists' work. These protagonists are to some extent innately vicious, but they have also learned to embrace that sociopathy by what they see other adults practicing, without even thinking acts of real integrity are possible in the "real world." _The Shark Infested Custard_ (a combination of 2 earlier stories and one new one), like the Hoke Moseley novels, I think show the people we could and do meet every day. These people live insulated from danger and moments of self-defining choices. They don't have the ambitions that the protagonist of _Woman Chaser_,
"The Machine in Ward 11," or _Burnt Orange Heresy_.

When these average guys confront such moments, they behave as viciously. Wouldn't the reader? Hoke Moseley, in _New Hope for the Dead_, actually gives a murderess the choice of being prosecuted for manslaughter or allowing Hoke and his daughters to live in her house for four years. Wouldn't we, under the circumstances? All Sergeant Hoke is, is a competent police investigator who knows that if the woman stands trial, she will spend maybe a year or two in jail, partly because the guy she killed, although her step-son, was a drug dealer.

What I don't like is critics who prate about "the humid decadence of south Florida." That applies to the corpsuits who own the Marlins or the Dolphins. CW writes about Everyman. He just happened to like Miami.

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