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


Very funny noir about a psycho used car dealer who gets the itch to make a movie and walks all over everybody in sight to get it done. If the film version ever shows on the Sundance Channel or IFC drop everything and watch it. This is one of the few movies that totally gets the book right. Charles Willeford rules!


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


Willeford is the poet of the pulps.


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.

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.


As much as I enjoyed The Burnt Orange Heresy, I'm finding that a little Charles Willeford goes a long way. It's not because the books are becoming "dated". You have to expect a little of that. But after reading "The Pick up" and this, I find Willeford to be a bit of a "one trick pony". I found myself wanting to get this one over with. I guess my main complaint is that the characters did nothing for me. I didn't care.


The weird, noirish story of a car salesman in '60s L.A. who decides to make a movie. Things do not work out well. The salesman, who narrates the story, has an attitude and a way with words that's both hilarious and demented. The movie version of the book is perhaps even better, but alas, is still not on DVD.


DO NOT READ THE BLACK MASK EDITION AS IT HAS A RIDICULOUS NUMBER OF TYPOS!!Ahem, ok, The Woman Chaser. Another book I first heard of in the bonus features for Down By Law when Jim Jarmusch listed some of his favorite books. Then the Onion AV Club had it in their bookclub and my lovely lady sent me her copy to read. Richard Hudson has problems. Part megalomania, raging Oedipus complex, and some pretty frightening sociopathic tendencies especially when it comes to the ladies. But the man wants to somehow transcend all that and the futility of "Eisenhower USA" by making a movie. But naturally this doesn't go quite as planned and people have to be taught a lesson as he sees fit.Definitely absorbing even though it takes a while to feel any kind of connection with such a weird guy. But it has its moments both comical (just check out how he phrases the synopsis of his movie) and just surreal (the dance sequence with his mother) and in a way the whole quest to create a piece of art rather than the movie itself becomes the "masterpiece" Hudson is going for. And this book, written as a film script, is the relic surviving it all. Probably a grower but definitely one I enjoyed reading and am still thinking about a week after I finished it.

Laissez Farrell

Part pulp-crime, part exploration of the artistic impulse and its relationship with the society. The prose is so loose that the book feels tossed-off at moments, and judging from Willeford's bibliography, it very well may have been. Willeford never loses control, however: the story remains tightly plotted. The tendency to drop narrative bombshells--many of these through the less-important, woman-chasing subplots--felt inserted to titillate a wide readership, almost as if someone were afraid the primary plot line was too slow in the build-up. Throughout, though, the voice is clear, authoritative, and never gives up its hold over the reader's attention.

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?

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.

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".


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.


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


One of my favorite books ever.

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