Archive for sociopath

The Woman Chaser by Charles Willeford (Newstand Library, 1961)

Posted in crime noir, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , on September 24, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks


What is it with vintage sleaze books and having protagonists as used car salesmen in Los Angeles? It worked well in Robert Carney’s excellent Anything Goes, as it does here in this early Willeford novel. And like Anything Goes — both published by Newsstand Library — this is an example of superb literary fiction marketed as softcore smut in the 1960s. Someone at Newsstand had a good eye for writing.

Stylistically, The Woman Chaser is an experimental novel for its time, taking its cue from John Dos Passos’ American Trilogy, with transitions between “chapters” using screenplay format: CUT TOs, WIPEs, DISSOLVES, etc. Near the end, one section takes the form of a short play (Moby-Dick?). At the top, we are presented a third person text, then go to first person as the narrator, Richard Hudson, sees himself in the third person as a different person as he changes his life: he’s a used car salesman for the Honest Hal franchise in San Francisco; he’s come down to Los Angeles to open an Honest Hal lot.  Hudson grew up in L.A., with a diva mother and a father who wrote a “True Grits” jungle that made a lot of money. Her current husband, the narrator’s stepfather, was once a visionary filmmaker in Hollywood, but art in the end did not sell movies and he lots a lot for the studio, so he had to retire from the biz. But Hollywood seems to always lure those who have returned back into the game of moving photo narratives…

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