Synopses & Reviews
"I'm proud to say I knew the man who wrote this book," writes Elmore Leonard of cult crime writer Charles Willeford's moving memoir of his youth. It is pure writing, never pretentious or forced, never melodramatic, but honest storytelling of the highest order. This is how to do it, if anyone wants to know: how to write simple prose from a young boy's point of view and hold the reader spellbound.
I Was Looking for a Street tells the story of the author's childhood and adolescence as an orphan, as he moves from railroad yards to hobo tent cities, to soup kitchens and deserts around Los Angeles and across the United States. The ensuing tale is at once a picaresque adventure through Depression-era America and a portrait of the writer as a young man of seemingly little promise but great spirit. Written after Willeford's later literary success with Cockfighter, Miami Blues and The Woman Chaser, this memoir is the work of a writer at the height of his powers, looking back without nostalgia or regret, and preserving in his clear and powerful prose the great American adventure of his youth.
I Was Looking for a Street is the first in a series of PictureBox reissues of the work of Willeford, who today counts writer Luc Sante (who contributes a preface to this volume), director Quentin Tarantino and musician Will Oldham among his many devoted fans. A former professional boxer, actor, horse trainer and radio announcer, Charles Willeford (1919-1988) is best known for his crime fiction featuring hardboiled detective Hoke Moseley. His career as a writer began in the late 1940s, but it was his 1962 novel Cockfighter that announced his name to a wider audience. His three best-known novels have all been adapted for the screen: Monte Hellman's 1974 Cockfighter, George Armitage's 1990 Miami Blues (starring Alec Baldwin) and Robinson Devor's 1999 The Woman Chaser.