High Priest of California - Charles Willeford I think I've read all of Willeford, now. They are uniformly interesting, especially as representative of fifties noir. Willeford was a master of language, and I doubt if there is a more unlikeable character than Russell Hixby, used car salesman, who meets a woman and schemes to get her into the sack. Willeford populates his books with truly despicable characters. Russell Hixby spends his time cheating his customers, mistreating the lot's mechanic, taking advantage of people, randomly hitting people in bars, and rewriting Joyce. His way of spending his free time is to take paragraphs from Ulysses and using a thesaurus simplify the words and rewrite for the "simple" people. When he's not at work he's trying to seduce every woman he meets. He listens to Bartok and reads T.S. Eliot. (Let's hope there's no cause-and-effect.) And he likes Kafka because he has a sense of humor.

Alyce Vitale's husband suffers from advanced syphilis, has been to a rehab center where he is on the mend but his brain has been addled. She meets Russell at a dance, he takes her home, and begins his slow seduction, getting her to "fall in love" with him. Russell is intrigued by her "differentness," wondering if "she was mysterious or just plain stupid."

Not a pretty story. If you like feel-good-happy-ending stories, I do not recommend Willeford. Some good writing with an undercurrent of sophisticated sarcasm.

Willeford writes superior pulp fiction and I'm glad they are returning in print. Available ridiculously cheap for your Kindle.