Miami Blues Introduction (2004)
Posted: 21 August 2007 11:03 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Miami Blues
by Charles Willeford
New York: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard (2004)
Trade paperback reprint
Introduction by Elmore Leonard

Willeford and I met in Key West in June, 1988, the year he died, after exchanging a dozen or so letters during the previous five years.  It began when I got excited over MIAMI BLUES and told him how much I liked it.  I felt a kinship, that Willeford and I were trying to do much the same thing with similar styles.  We had discovered that feeling bad guys as the central characters was more fun than being stuck with some good guy’s point of view – unless the good guy was hard to tell from the bad guy.  We both saw Harry Dean Stanton as our hero.

Our track records were similar, both having spent years writing against formulaic but still wanting recognition.  Willeford complained about nit-picking copy editors and revision requests, got flak from editors and fought them.  About making revisions, writing to order, he said:  “The more I fooled with it, the worse it seemed to get.”  Amen.  I told him to try not taking this business of writing so seriously.  He wrote: “Your advice to ‘lighten up’ was invaluable to me.  I was trying to write a novel with crime elements instead of a crime novel per se, and it was much too grim.”

We both began books without knowing what they were about.  In ’85, Willeford said, “I’ve got about 150 pages in a new Hoke Moseley novel, but have no idea what’s going to happen in this one.”  A couple of years later:  “All I have on another one is the title and a wild idea for a plot.  But I don’t know when to start, so I’ll probably just start anyway and hope for the best.” 

He did, though, know exactly what he was doing.  Willeford was an original, a natural with talent that reached far beyond the crime-novel genre to criticism and fascinating autobiographical works.

“I just write four or five pages in the morning,” Willeford wrote one time, “and then kind of wander around or take naps in the afternoon, but this is what I do, I guess, or I would do something else.”

What he did, no one does better.


“No one writes a better crime novel than Charles Willeford.”
- Elmore Leonard (MIAMI BLUES Jacket Copy)

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Posted: 25 August 2007 09:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I found this quote on the net:

“I’m proud to say I knew the man who wrote this book [High Priest of California (1953) by Charles Willeford]. Willeford writes with quiet authority, has the ability to make his situations, scenes, dialogue, sound absolutely real.” - Elmore Leonard

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