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Charles Willeford (Charles Ray Willeford) Biography

(1919–88), (Charles Ray Willeford), Proletarian Laughter, High Priest of California, Until I Am Dead, Wild Wives

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American writer, born in Little Rock, Arkansas; he enlisted in the US Army at the age of 16, fought as a tank commander with the 10th Armoured Division during the Second World War, and was awarded the Silver Star and Luxembourg Croix de Guerre. Later, while stationed in California, he published a volume of verse, Proletarian Laughter (1948), and a San Francisco novel trilogy: High Priest of California (1953), Until I Am Dead (1953; retitled Wild Wives), and Pick-up (1954). On leaving the army he moved to Florida, studied at the University of Miami, where he later taught English literature, and reviewed crime fiction for the Miami Herald. Later novels include The Burnt Orange Heresy (1971), perhaps his best work, Cockfighter (1971), and, under the pseudonym ‘Will Charles’, an ‘existentialist Western’, The Hombre from Sonora (1972). He is best known, however, for the series of original crime novels about Hoke Moseley, a detective in the Miami police department, which, in their portrayal of American life, have something in common with the work of Elmore Leonard. These are Miami Blues (1984), New Hope for the Dead (1986), Side-Swipe (1987), and The Way We Die Now (1988). The first volume of an autobiography, Something about a Soldier, appeared in 1989.

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