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A short memoir of a writer who, as a fourteen-year-old, left home during the Depression to ride the rails.
Among the best and biggest-hearted autobiographies you'll read.
This book is a treasure. The great Willeford tells the story of his youth, being a depression-era hobo and riding the rails at the age of 11, with his typical dispassionate style. Yet, it's not dispassionate. Willeford can tug at your heart strings without being sentimental. This is the characteristic that makes all of his books so amazing.Someone should do a formalistic study of Willeford's prose. It's no mean feat to tell a story simply, using exactly the right words without lapsing into long-...
Willeford, who died in 1988 was an American treasure. Best known as the author of the character Detective Hoke Moseley of “Miami Blues” fame, growing up in a relatively well-off family in the 1920’s due to the early death of his parents during his childhood and the onset of the Depression, Willeford hit the road from LA at the age of 14 and rode the rails like a lot of other young men of the era. “I Was Looking For A Street” tells the story of these early years in unstinting detail. If you’re fa...
strange little book. i've read most of his other published works, and this one is built on 2 colliding conceits (i won't ruin this for you), but the digression about the hat illustrates a kind of image of self that is entirely believable if you have a sense of the world as unforgiving and conniving. very happy this was republished. hopefully a few more people will read him.
This was an odd little read, a first part memoir of the life of the late and great Charles Willeford. Willeford was an acclaimed noir crime writer whose career spanned the 1950s through to his death in the late 1980s. A master of adorning his stories with zero sentiment, he extends that skill to this book that covers his early years growing up in Depression era Los Angeles and of his teenage years living a 'bum' travelling the country on the railways. He is a master story teller :)
If you're into John Fante, and old timey Los Angeles, this book is a must read. The memoir of Charles Willeford is rich with unique slices of 1920s-1930s Los Angeles life. Once he hits the road, the details get crazy and amazing. He's a sparse writer, and yet his writing is so rich. Some of his word and ideas are misguided in an early 20th century kind of way, but I've read worse.
Good book but a lot of typos in the new edition...they should've hired a copy editor...or at least proof read the thing.
This was an interesting read for me. I enjoyed the experience of reading it, sort of. The story swept me along well enough and I was never really bored by it, but at the same time when I got to the end of it I felt completely indifferent about what I'd read. Had I got anything out of it? Had I enjoyed it? Would I remember it in a months time? I honestly don't know, but I suspect the fact that I'm asking the question is an answer in its own right.
strange and wild and young - a true result of its times. i liked reading about young charles and these hyper-specific moments of his childhood. sticking with me is the paragraph in which he, drunk on mescal, starts to look forward to the fantasy version of his life he tells other people - an aunt and a job waiting in chicago. when reality hits, it's cold and depressing, for he's slipped into the story of himself. i liked having access to both stories.
Willeford is one of my favorite writers of crime fiction, but this is something a bit different— a hardscrabble memoir of his Depression-era adolescence, where he saw the country via freight train, slumming around begging for work. It’s wonderful, full of vivid recollections, sex, travel, violence, and more. It’s all remembered with fondness, but Willeford never romanticizes. And true to form, he frames the whole adventure as a quixotic quest for a cowboy hat.
Not really what I'd hoped it would be. Willeford's good, but not good enough.
Fantastic ordered 3 more of his books.
Very interesting and entertaining memoir about Willeford's itinerant teenage years during the Depression. I don't think I've ever read anything better about a hat in my entire life.
Great title, good story, poor writer-
#14 from willeford for me. i'm a fan. i enjoy his stories. this from 1988, the year he died...although i could be mistaken on that so don't quote me on it.he has this note on a white page: for euphonious reasons, most of the names, but not all of them, have been changed in this book. --c.w.before that, there's a b/w drawing...i assume of willeford...looks to be of him late in life.a dedication: for robert d. loomisa quote from donald justice:after the overture,the opera seemed brief.then there's...
I love books set in the LA of the 1920s and 1930s. I love hobo tales. Charles Willeford’s I Was Looking For a Street falls right into that wheelhouse. That said, I liked I Was Looking for A Street well enough, but I didn’t love it. It’s a memoir of Willeford’s childhood years. Orphaned by parents who succumbed to TB, Willeford was raised by his grandmother. Because times were tight, he spent much time at a school for boys when she couldn’t afford to keep him. His reminiscence of weekend visits w...
A pretty alright and breezy read. This autobiography turned out to be mostly a recount of Charles Willeford's childhood up until he hits 14 years of age. The one thing I really hoped for was a vivid discription of Los Angeles and where else he traveled in a distinct moment in time, but what we end up with is mostly just a sliver of that, I think. It's too bad, but considering how short the read is and how many events it covers, I suppose it's inevitable that some of the depth had to be sacrifice...
The only nonfiction I've read from Willeford, I Was Looking for a Street, is his memoir of growing up during the depression and riding the rails, mostly on his own, trying to survive as a kid. In literature, it's well-treaded territory, but Willeford's real life wanderings aren't dissimilar to a novel of that period. In this case, his journal-like writing is riveting. This is one of two 2010 paperback reissues (the other is Cockfighter) of Willeford's work from PictureBox and Family and they're
Willeford was one of my dad's favorite authors, and I can totally see why. Nice spare prose, with just a bit of the grotesque creeping in around the edges from time to time. Reminded me a bit of Cormac McCarthy without the visceral violence...even hit on some similar bits of US landscape given the fact that Willeford spends the entirety of his memoir trekking back and forth between LA and the Texas Panhandle. In any event, reading the memoir made me feel pretty lucky to have spent my teenage yea...
Great autobiography, or rather, an autobiography of a piece of the author's life. It does not cover his writing years, nor does it go into his years in the service, but it is nevertheless a very well written and interesting life. Orphaned young, and deciding not to be a burden to his grandmother, he leaves home at the age of 13 and rides the rails. Some great anecdotes and stories lie within the pages.
Good memoir of being a young hobo in the Depression - ending seemed abrupt though
The prose is as brilliantly blunt as his novels, but the story, the true story of his early life as an adolescent living on his own in depression-era America, is almost more gripping.
A good memoir, but a terribly edited edition.
Easily one of the best three books I've ever read. Would give half an arm and a better part of a leg for such an honest, clear and wonderful writing.
One of the best memoirs I've ever read, maybe one of the best things I've ever read period.