Re: RARA-AVIS: Woolrich as Short Story Writer

From: William Ahearn (
Date: 29 Feb 2008

--- JIM DOHERTY <> wrote:

> Speaking for myself, very often his novels don't
> altogether work. The many unlikely occurences and
> coincidences, the linchpin of so much of Woolrich's
> work, become too apparent at book-length.

As I was reading Fright last night, I -- once again -- realized those very things that you mention above. And I'm not arguing with you. Yet, I find Woolrich's overall environment is similar to how I perceive the environments in Marquez or Cortazar. Some Latin writers can just make magical realism work and get away with just about anything. (And, yes, Cortazar is only sometimes a practitioner.) Woolrich doesn't have the technique of Marquez but the intent is the same to me. It's hard to explain since I tend to be hypercritical and for me, Woolrich allows me to toss all of that out of the window and just bang down the bumpy road with him. If for nothing else I read Woolrich for fun. A dark and twisted lark through a damaged soul. There are other writers I love but some seem like work reading them from time to time. Except Woolrich. I think of him drunk as a skunk, money in the bank, empty bottles strewn around an empty hotel room tapping away on an ancient typewriter and I just smile. He didn't go to conferences, never wrote a book titled "How To Break Into The Macabre Market and Make Millions," rarely spoke to the press and never did any blatant self-promotion. Maybe that's why he'll never be as popular as a lot of lesser writers who follow the pack and the formula. He wrote and he drank and he really didn't give a shit about much else and somehow I find that and his work valuable.

I just wanted to get this in on the last day of Woolrich month.


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