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The Black Mass of Brother Springer [Paperback]

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Item description for The Black Mass of Brother Springer by Charles Ray Willeford...

The Washington Post calls this darkly humorous novel by Charles Willeford, one of the great crime writers of the 20th century, "his masterpiece."

This new edition includes a new introduction by James Sallis, and the previously unpublished play version of the novel (THE ORDAINMENT OF BROTHER SPRINGER).

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Item Specifications...

Pages   208
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.4" Width: 5.5" Height: 0.5"
Weight:   0.5 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Publisher   Wit's End Publishing
ISBN  1930997353  
ISBN13  9781930997356  

Availability  141 units.
Availability accurate as of May 25, 2017 10:11.
Usually ships within one to two business days from La Vergne, TN.
Orders shipping to an address other than a confirmed Credit Card / Paypal Billing address may incur and additional processing delay.

More About Charles Ray Willeford

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Charles Willeford was a highly decorated (Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Luxembourg Croix de Guerre) tank commander with the Third Army in World War II. He was also a professional horse trainer, boxer, radio announcer, and painter. Willeford, the author of twenty novels, created the Miami detective series featuring Hoke Moseley, which includes Miami Blues, Sideswipe, The Way We Die Now, and New Hope for the Dead. He died in 1988.

Charles Ray Willeford was born in 1919 and died in 1988.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
2Books > Subjects > Mystery & Thrillers > Authors, A-Z > ( W ) > Willeford, Charles
3Books > Subjects > Mystery & Thrillers > General
4Books > Subjects > Mystery & Thrillers > Mystery > General

Reviews - What do customers think about The Black Mass of Brother Springer?

Thoroughly original.  Mar 13, 2004
This off beat novel takes place in the segregated South of the 1950's. In it, Charles Willeford tells the improbable tale of Sam Springer, aka Brother Deuteronomy. For $20 cash, Springer simultaneously purchases both a certificate of ministerial ordination and an appointment as pastor of a 100% African-American church in Jacksonville, Florida. Two problems. First of all, Springer is a white man who by his own admission knows very little about black people. Secondly, he is an atheist who knows and cares nothing about religion. Despite these two handicaps, Brother Springer takes to his new found position like a fish to water. Within a very short period of time, he organizes a citywide civil rights protest while also setting about the task of seducing the beautiful young wife of one of his congregants. That in a nutshell is the story of The Black Mass of Brother Springer.
Charles Willeford loves to take on sacred cows. And in this book, he takes on the most sacred of all cows, religion itself. He also skewers segregationists and racists in general by comically revealing their warped sense of reality with their own words. A fairly courageous thing to do in 1958, the year this book was originally published. A time when the civil rights movement had barely begun.
This novel has much in common with other works by Willeford. It is funny, sometimes in a lighthearted way, sometimes in a very dark way. It is extremely irreverent and at times it is quite disturbing, even shocking. It is not politically correct nor is it ever dull. Willeford often likes to punctuate his fiction with sudden unexpected acts of violence. There's some of that here but it's minimal when compared to many of his other novels.
James Sallis quotes the author in the book's introduction as to his secret for successful writing. Willeford said that only when he stopped caring what others thought of his work was he able to write in earnest. In other words, Willeford put down on paper only what he genuinely felt without regard to how the reader might perceive it. Only by this means, he believed, would the truth have a chance of coming out.
As mentioned before, there are disturbing aspects to this book. To me the most disturbing is that there isn't a single African-American character who is not hoodwinked by Springer despite his being a very foolish man and an obvious charlatan. I don't know why Willeford chose to write the book this way or whether he ever explained this choice in his 30 years of life after The Black Mass of Brother Springer was first published.
Nevertheless, this is an unforgetable work which entertains while educating and challenging the reader. Isn't that the very definition of great literature?
One of Willeford's best  Oct 2, 1999
This is one of Willeford's best books--equals Cockfighter or The Burnt Orange Heresy and it's a shame that it is very difficult to find. If you can gets a used copy, I highly recommend it. Hopefully, some wise publisher will bring it back into print. Jason Starr (author of Cold Caller and Nothing Personal)
This is a very funny, peculiar, and entertaining book.  Mar 2, 1999
Charles Willeford has been mistakenly placed in the mystery section of bookstores in the same way that Kilgore Trout was relegated to the seemy shelves of adult bookstores. How this came about is the true mystery. He is often cited alongside Jim Thompson, but the two have nothing in common. Charles Willeford is more of a cross between Bukowski and...and..John Kennedy O'Toole. A little bit of Graham Greene here, at Greenes best ("The ugly American" or was it "The quiet American" ?) There is a hard, unnerving edge, but humour and beautiful observations of strange lives lurk inside the cynicism in a way that Thompson never tries nor would if he could. Anyway, about this book : The protaganist is a white louse who somehow buys a ministry to a black church in the south from an aggressive ex-seargant in the army out to make a buck. He is no believer in god, more of a failed literature graduate student. But he starts writing sermons, good ones ( kinda like John Donne), which have references to Kafka. He is a success. But he is still a louse, and his louseness reasserts itself in conflict with his new found sense of moral responsibility. This sets the stage. I recommend this to anyone with a sense of humour.

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