Re: RARA-AVIS: Willeford

From: jacquesdebierue (
Date: 19 Jul 2008

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    --- In, DJ-Anonyme@... wrote:

    > It continues to amaze me that Willeford isn't more widely read. Then
    > again, while reading Made in Miami, I was thinking about that Gold Medal
    > editor who supposedly told Willeford to stop sending his books to GM,
    > started thinking about why he might have been put off. And then I hit
    > the introduction of Ralph's landlady, with her imposed natural diet and
    > discussions of her boarders' regularity during dinner. Now I love those
    > odd bits of absurdist satire, but it ain't exactly Travis McGee's
    > righteous indignation.
    > And even when Willeford finally submitted to writing a series, he didn't
    > offer a normal one. Yes, the Hoke Moseley books feature police
    > investigations, but what makes them so great is his weird household,
    > with his pregnant (not by him) partner and his estranged kids who have
    > been dropped on his doorstep. Far from usual crime fiction, but for the
    > right reader there's no one like Willeford.

    I agree. I would rank Willeford alongside Chandler as an original stylist, one of the best in our genre. That is not a small merit... and his stories are original, too. Yet, as you say, he is practically unknown outside a relativaly small circle of serious fans and students of crime fiction. I doubt that the stories themselves put readers off.
     I just think he didn't get the break that others got. Puzo got it with The Godfather, for example, otherwise we would be talking about this really good cult writer that few know about and what a shame, etc. And the great Borges remained obscure until he was in his sixties, when miraculously he became an internationally known figure, all the way to being ranked among the best writers of the twentieth century.

    Frankly, I think Willeford was very unlucky. I have yet to read anything of his that was not first rate and original. He had the literary voice that many writers would kill for.



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