Writing & Other Blood Sports

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Writing & Other Blood Sports

Writing & Other Blood Sports

By: Charles Willeford

audio performed by: Fred Berman
genre: Biography - Biography
publication date:06/22/2021
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Charles Willeford was a man of letters in all senses of the word. Poet, essayist, short story writer, novelist, and raconteur, his early paperback novels with their existential/immobilized heroes were the creations (to paraphrase Chandler) of a man not himself immobilized - a man who, instead, with his trademark black-humored prose, doggedly examined the mind-thrumming banalities of our materially sated but intellectually befuddled postwar world, crafting a body of work that is only now, 50-some years after his first appearance in print, beginning to be widely appreciated as a series of guidebooks on how to live in an absurd universe.

Writing & Other Blood Sports contains autobiographical essays, profiles of and opinions about fellow writers (“The Big White Smile” [1964] is the first critical article written on John D. MacDonald; in “Chester Himes and His Novels of Absurdity” he pays tribute to an immobilized and self-exiled writer's dissections of humanity's foibles; while “Jim Tully: Holistic Barbarian” makes the case for taking another look at the founder of the hard-boiled school - now forgotten because he didn't write genre fiction), and commentaries on Willeford himself by both critics and friends. The collection culminates with the book-length study New Forms of Ugly: The Immobilized Hero in Modern Fiction, wherein Willeford follows the development of this “new hero” from Dostoyevsky's Mole Man to Saul Bellow's Moses Herzog.

Charles Willeford observed people and events without sentimentality but was always empathetic. He thought deeply about what we're all doing (and not doing) here, and his insights and opinions are worth all our whiles to ponder.