RARA-AVIS: Vonnegut letter to Willeford - Bill Denton

From: Michael S. Chong (menglish47@yahoo.com)
Date: 12 Aug 2009

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    Rara Avis proprietor Bill Denton posted the following on his website:


    Kurt Vonnegut to Charles WIlleford

              Submitted by wtd on 21 July 2009 - 10:34pm

    A letter from Kurt Vonnegut to Charles Willeford, dated 13 August 1985:

    Your publisher asked for a blurb, but I don't do those anymore having given thousands in the past, and thus having laid myself open to requests for thousands more. However, please count me among your great admirers. You are an absolute first-rate ethnographer in describing survival schemes within chaos which only politicians would be cynical enough to call a society. You have written an important book, and must know it -- and must know, too, that you are in a ghetto. What are you? A writer of thrillers, right? Meanwhile, there are all these serious writers, describing America as it really is. Shall I name some of them? Would you like me to send you some of their wonderful books?

    [The postscript:] Here's a trade secret maybe nobody ever told you: The more highly educated and powerful your characters, the more popular your books will be.

    Transcribed by Zach Feldberg, who visited the Charles Willeford archives. If you haven't read anything by Willeford, you should. I recommend starting with The Burnt Orange Heresy (1971), the greatest crime novel about art ever written, and the first Hoke Moseley novel, Miami Blues (1984).



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