Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Just noticed that Charles Willeford's amazing first memoir I Was Looking For a Street is being re-printed this week. It's a great book. Every bit as strange and entertaining as one of his novels and sheds some light on the origins of his style and preoccupations. Of course the memoirist is never to be entirely trusted. You can't help wondering how much of young Chuck's motivations and reasoning benefit from a lifetime's honing and contemplation. We start as children, seedlings of what we become and the temptation is always to color our memories to fit our present personality and world view, but damn, it's an amazing book. I still haven't read his second memoir, Something About a Soldier, but hopefully, that one'll find its way back into print soon.

Over at Ransom Notes, I'm giving a little love to his books, specifically the Hoke Mosely series and George Armitage's film based on the first of those titles, Miami Blues. Good movie, great book. Film was strong and strange and introduced me to Willeford - no small debt to owe. It strikes me that there've only been a handful of films made from his source material and none of them slouches. Monte Helman's 1974 film Cockfighter starred Harry Dean Stanton, (according to Elmore Leonard - a favorite of both his and Willeford's) and Warren Oates. And Robinson Devor made The Woman Chaser in 1999 starring, (in one of the best uses of his talents) Patrick Warburton. In a case of life imitating art, Devor's film about a director whose film is hijacked by the producers, his own vision was compromised and released minus some of the most Willefodian touches that endear it to film lovers. I've seen an unreleased director's cut, (B&W) and weirdness intact and it's a gem. Hope it gets a release soon. Hell, the other version is hardly a beloved classic that folks'll be up in arms over the tinkering with - I say give it another shot, the way the director intended.


Ray Banks said...

Love COCKFIGHTER, both the book and the movie. Way the story goes, it was the only Corman movie to lose money. Willeford appeared to be quite proud of that.

By the way, if you haven't already, seek out Don Herron's WILLEFORD, a helluva biography with an extended chat in the back.

jedidiah ayres said...

Thanks Ray, haven't seen Herron's book. Checkerout

pattinase (abbott) said...

I also love COCKFIGHTER-Warren Oates is outstanding and Willeford shows up for a minute or two. Book is also terrific. He's the best.

Rod Norman said...

Jed, Remember I was raving on Cockfighter last year as one of my all time fav's ! So I'm not jumpin on the bandwagon here, oh what the hell its Patti & Ray, let me on board.