Off the Wall PDF
by Charles Willeford
Charles Willeford was a remarkably fine, talented and prolific writer who wrote everything from poetry to crime fiction to literary criticism throughout the course of his impressively long and diverse career. His crime novels are distinguished by a mean'n'lean sense of narrative economy and an admirable dearth of sentimentality. He was born as Charles Ray Willeford III on January 2, 1919 in Little Rock, Arkansas. Willeford's parents both died of tuberculosis when he was a little boy and he subsequently lived either with his grandmother or at boarding schools. Charles became a hobo in his early teens. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps at age sixteen and was stationed in the Philippines. Willeford served as a tank commander with the 10th Armored Division in Europe during World War II. He won several medals for his military service: the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, two Purple Hearts, and the Luxembourg Croix de Guerre. Charles retired from the army as a Master Sergeant. Willeford's first novel "High Priest of California" was published in 1953. This solid debut was followed by such equally excellent novels as "Pick-Up" (this book won a Beacon Fiction Award), "Wild Wives," "The Woman Chaser," "Cockfighter" (this particular book won the Mark Twain Award), and "The Burnt Orange Heresy." Charles achieved his greatest commercial and critical success with four outstanding novels about hapless Florida homicide detective Hoke Moseley: "Miami Blues," "New Hope for the Dead," "Sideswipe," and "The Way We Die Now." Outside of his novels, he also wrote the short story anthology "The Machine in Ward Eleven," the poetry collections "The Outcast Poets" and "Proletarian Laughter," and the nonfiction book "Something About A Soldier." Willeford attended both Palm Beach Junior College and the University of Miami. He taught a course in humanities at the University of Miami and was an associate professor who taught classes in both philosophy and English at Miami Dade Junior College. Charles was married three times and was an associate editor for "Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine." Three of Willeford's novels have been adapted into movies: Monte Hellman delivered a bleakly fascinating character study with "Cockfighter" (Charles wrote the script and has a sizable supporting role as the referee of a cockfighting tournament which climaxes the picture), George Armitage hit one out of the ballpark with the wonderfully quirky "Miami Blues," and Robinson Devor scored a bull's eye with the offbeat "The Woman Chaser." Charles popped up in a small part as a bartender in the fun redneck car chase romp "Thunder and Lightning." Charles Willeford died of a heart attack at age 69 on March 27, 1988.
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