R.W. Clark's Reviews > High Priest of California

High Priest of California by Charles Willeford
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Oct 02, 2016

really liked it
bookshelves: pulp-and-mystery

"It was one of those dance halls where men come to pick up something, and women come to be picked up. I was there because I was bored."

Classic Pulp, and thus the meeting between Russell Haxby and Alyce Vitale who barely knows the rules of engagement in a dance hall in the early 50s, San Francisco.

Russ: the eponymous High Priest (used car salesman) who knows every con in the book to make a sale to keep him in new suits, casually thump on strangers at a bar, and relax to recordings of jazz and classical music ... liberally lubricated with booze and cigarettes.

Alyce: who could have served in another of Willeford's pulps under the title of "Anesthetized Wives" (a wild presumption on my part in anticipating an actual offering of his: "Wild Wives").

The interaction between them is a study in unrelieved sexual tension. The magnet of compelling reading is how long he can play out this cold fish that Alyce is when women are willing to grab a cab to jump into bed with him.

I've read a lot of Pulp, and as a class it offers unremittingly hopeless endings. However, as wholly unsympathetic as Russ can be, he does serve as the Destroyer that can release Alyce from her restraints. (Which is to say a self-serving, tainted win-win.)
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
October 2, 2016 – Shelved
October 2, 2016 – Shelved as: pulp-and-mystery

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