The Woman Chaser

ISBN: 1842430017
ISBN 13: 9781842430019
By: Charles Willeford

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About this book

Richard Hudson, woman chaser and used car salesman, has a pimp's awareness of the ways women (and men) are most vulnerable. One day Richard decides to make an ambitious film, which turns into a fiasco. Enraged, he exacts revenge on all who have crossed him.

Reader's Thoughts


Willeford is worth checking out - he's an underrated writer of the 1950s-1980s. He wrote mostly hard-boiled stuff but with a humorous touch. He's great on what it's like to be poor and hungry for work. This is one of my favorite L.A. novels.


Holy crap, every time I read a Charles Willeford novel I find myself wondering why this guy isn't treated like a major talent. I think this is the best of the few I've read. Time to look for more.


Poor edition, so many spelling errors, come on! an early work with good moments, but an exaggerated too fantastic of a story line, maybe on purpose, who knows?.

David Neitzke

Strange combination of hard-boiled pulp and black comedy from the early '60's about a sleazy, sociopathic used car salesman who becomes obsessed with writing and directing a low budget explotation film he came up with titled "The Man Who Got Away".


Fun pulp from 1960. The hero is a sexist, racist, likable jerk. An amusing plot involving an ace used car salesman who dreams of using his insights as a capitalist whore to write and direct a movie so America can gain from his cynical, cruel perspective on life.


The A.V. Club's Wrapped Up In Books selection for July.



Zachary Krug

I enjoyed this, but maybe not quite as much as I expected, especially given the number of times people whose tastes I admire have recommended Willeford to me. I generally liked the writing. And the weirdness. And the disgust with so much of American culture of the era. Somewhere along the way it reminded my of Portnoy's complaint without the sex (and much of the anxiety). And the subtlety with which Richard's craziness is revealed was really well done. But I guess I would have enjoyed more thrills and less ruminations on artistry. (Also more of the used car and less of the movie business.) So much of it was building, building, building--but to what? If this was cleverly intended to show "movement" over "action," that was lost on me. Maybe because I expected it be more of a crime/revenge novel and less about movies or the american condition, I was disappointed by the last third. Still, I will definitely read some more--maybe Miami Blues or Side Swiped. Some other things I liked:The line about need 2 shifts to support such a family; 3 shifts to love them. The comfort of mummies.Vocabulary needed for Time vs Newsweek.A bottle of scotch as your only luggage. Does anyone know what "spaelean depths" (p.49) refers to?


Charles Willeford is one of those rare authors who makes me laugh out loud in book after book. Donald Westlake is another. It's their deadpan delivery or something. Anyway, Richard Hudson is a fun-loving used car salesman (one of Willeford's favorite characters to use) who gets bored and decides to make a movie. He runs into all types of crazy problems, including making a short movie of sixty-odd minutes instead of the conventional ninety minutes. Entertaining even if not one of his best, this Willeford novel can be downloaded at


Possibly Willeford's most heinous protagonist, yet you get caught up in his logic and worldview while still repulsed. The detail and logic of how the narrator goes about making his first film without any previous experience or outside education is pure Willeford. A few truly inspired moments of grotesqueness and a few just truly grotesque moments.

Patrick McCoy

The Woman Chaser (1960) by Charles Willeford is a curiously titled novel since most of the woman chasing by the protagonist Richard Hudson is away from him. Perhaps, it was a marketing ploy, but this novel is more about artistic integrity and the used car industry than it is about womanizing, although there is some of that. It is a kind of a crime noir for sure with its bleak worldview about “straight society.” Hudson is a successful used car salesman who feels the need for more in life, but it is not a family that he longs for, rather he feels that the need to create in order to truly be alive. So he decides to make a low-budget film with his stepfather, a former studio director. However, Hudson is unwilling to compromise, either to pad the film to make it longer for theatrical release, nor is he willing to trim it for airing on TV (cable would have solved this problem today). His partners decide to air in on TV and Hudson spirals into anger and depression, wrecking havoc on anyone who crosses his path. Yet, another entertaining early novel from Willeford.

Matty B

I read this after I saw the indie film version starring Patrick Warburton as the eponymous protagonist. It's about a used car salesman who decides his life is pointless unless he creates one thing. Just one thing.So he sets out to, and as his creation grows, his sanity seems to diminish.Truly a classic from pulp writer Willeford.Also, the movie is good.


A very unusual book. It was written in 1960, but there were times when you thought it was totally modern.

Chuck Williamson

Sick, twisted, and deliriously funny. Like Walker Percy's THE MOVIEGOER, but without all that preening and pretentious navel-gazing. An absurdist show-biz story that dives into the sleaziest dives and skuzziest dumpsters of Tinsel Town. A family melodrama that is equal parts August Strindberg and dinner scene from THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE.

Cathy DuPont

Hummm. Another book by Charles Willeford and again, how would this be classified, what genre? As a writer, Willeford is very difficult to categorize and rightly so. I’ve read almost all of his books and they range from absurd to zany from intense to humorous. The Woman Chaser falls somewhere between a to z starting with the opening paragraph which begins like a movie script. For good reason, too. After a few chapters that's what it's about; a movie script and Richard Hudson's life in humdrum Amercia, living (or not) the Amercian dream. Hudson is an off-the-chart great used car salesman who gets bored with all the money he’s made selling used cars. With the big ‘thumbs up’ from his boss in San Francisco, Richard buys a used car lot in Los Angeles, gussies it up, staffs it, reconnects with his family (he grew up in LA) and soon thereafter leaves for a hotel room to write his first movie script. He has a strong desire, an urgent need to be creative apparently having lost his himself in making money in the used car business. Richard is like 'is this all there is?' or ‘What’s it all About, Alfie?”His family consists of his ‘forever a ballerina’ mother, step-father who is about his age and a down and out movie producer, and his step-sister, a nubile teenager. Beginning with absurd or ending with zany, either term will do, my favorite part in the book is when he finds his mother in the well-appointed basement ballet dancing to The Miraculous Mandarin. He strips off his shirt and begins dancing with her becoming the “the Miraculous Mandarin himself, the damndest Chinaman anybody ever saw! I chased, I pursued, I made impossible leaps and came down as lightly as a wind-wafted cigarette paper.” What a sight, in my mind, to behold when Richard “pranced, cavorted, darted, turned, glided, bent, stretched, and did a mad fouetee on one leg” until he almost lost reason, he says. That was the turning point, when he decided that writing and directing the movie was his destiny. The only reason for his existence at this point in his life.I found myself from time to time thinking about the movie American Beauty, a mid-life crisis in the making. Here's Richard, in mid-life crisis mode, and I'm reading it line by line. And the title, well, women are throwaways for him, but then so is everything else when he decides his life is not complete until his movie is written, directed (by himself, of course) and in the theaters as the biggest success since Gone With the Wind. When his masterpiece is completed, well, that’s the story, so I’ll leave it up to you to take the time to read this little jewel of a book, a scant 192 pages. In my view, Willeford is underestimated, if estimated at all on anyone’s radar. He’s relatively unknown except for those interested in noir (he wrote from the 1950's-1980's) although he can’t, in my mind, be classified in that category either. But he was a great underrated talent who should be studied in creative writing classes and read by even more readers than some of the noted authors of today. He's a vivid and a simply great writer in my opinion. In my list of favorite authors, Willeford is right up there with my favorites. My only regret is that he went long periods of time (12 years) without writing or publishing anything so he has a very small library of books; unfortunately, I’m near the end of reading them. Too bad for me but good for you if you haven’t read him. He’s a must in on my list and you are missing out if you haven't read him yet.

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