Sunday, September 21, 2014

My Bouchecon panels: "The third time he pulled the trigger she disappeared"

This post's title is the end of Ennis Willie's story "Con's Wife." The story's first line is "He had three eyes."  For all the talk about Willie's tough-guy persona and his raw, first-draft prose style, and his roots in sleaze magazines and paperbacks of the 1960s, the man could write.

He's Richard S. Prather without the jokes, Mickey Spillane without the political frothing to which Spillane could descend at his worst.  His protagonist, Sand, is what Carroll John Daly's Race Williams would have been if Daly had been a better writer.

Willie is also a bit of a mystery man, at various times thought to be a) African American, b) Mickey Spillane, or c) dead, though the truth turns out to be simpler and, hence, more mysterious than the speculation.  You can read him in two collections available from Ramble House: Sand's Game and Sand's War, which include novels, stories, and appreciations from leading hard-boiled writers and commentators, including Bill Crider, Max Allan Collins, and Bill Pronzini.

So get your Willie. He's tough, fast, satisfying and, thanks to Ramble House, cheap. (Read the first chapter of Death in a Dead Place, included in Sand's Game, on the Ramble House Web site.)
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Max Allan Collins will offer some comments on Ennis Willie as part of a panel I'll moderate at Bouchercon 2014. The panel is called Beyond Hammett, Chandler, and Spillane: Lesser Known Writers of the Pulp and Paperback Eras, and it happens at 3 p.m, Friday, Nov. 14.

© Peter Rozovsky 2014

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8 Comments:

Blogger RT said...

Has there ever been a writer who more urgently needed a pseudonym? Ennis Willie doesn't exactly sound right for some reason(s). Still, I am intrigued. So I'm off to my library site. And then -- as a last resort -- Amazon.

September 22, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

From an interview included with Sand's Game, the volume under discussion here:

"Did you write under any pen names during this period? If so, which ones and for what publishers? Inquiring collectors want to know! '

"Most writers have at least one pen name. Magazines are very averse to publishing more than one story in the same issue by the same author. I had one in reserve for that purpose. It was never used on a book. I don’t think I’m prepared to confess what it was. Maybe after the torture . . ."


A pseudonym would have eliminated all the Willie Ennises and Ennises and Willies that clogged my online searches for Ennis WIllie.

September 22, 2014  
Blogger RT said...

Perhaps my comment was provoked by my latest middle-school pun addiction. Ennis Willie? Shame on me. I am sending myself to my room without dinner. That'll larn me.

September 22, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

In the first place, it's an elementary school pun. In the second, the very same word play occurred to me when i first heard the name.

September 22, 2014  
Blogger RT said...

Elementary school? I was a late bloomer. Perhaps my sheltered childhood until age 12 protected from such nonsense for a while. Then I began riding school busses and learning all sorts of wretched stuff from the older kids.

September 22, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

School Bus Confidential!

September 22, 2014  
Blogger Bill Crider said...

I really wish I could be there for that panel. Sounds like a highlight of the convention to me.

September 23, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Bill, I was disappointed to see your name missing from the list. We'll have to have a good Willie chat next time we meet at a convention. I believe the panel will be a highlight. I am discovering most of these authors for the first time, and I expect my youthful enthusiasm will shine through.

Sure, some of the material in Sand's Game looks to have been written in first-draft haste, but man, WIllie obviously had terrific writing chops (or has, maybe I should say.)

September 23, 2014  

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