Rediscovered: “Say It Simple”

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And today Michael S. Chong returns, with the third entry in his series of “lost” Willeford bits scattered through the newspapers of North America — this time an item about Willeford’s interest in playing around with big, fancy words (subject of the chapter “Nugatory” — pp97-99 — in my book on the author of Miami Blues).

Here’s Michael:

After enjoying all the Willeford works I could find through used bookstores, I turned to Dennis McMillan Publications and ordered copies of Don Herron’s biography Willeford, the collection Writing and Other Blood Sports, and the existential western The Difference.

Reading the biography Willeford is like spending some time with the man. I have read my share of literary biographies and nothing else has come close to being as intimate and candid as the transcriptions of the tapes Don recorded while visiting the Willefords.

Willeford comes across as a mischievous uncle who would tell you everything straight up, even the dark stuff — and always with a smile.

“Say It Simple” is a John Keasler column found in the Mt. Carmel, Illinois Daily Republican-Register on Friday, January 4, 1980 which depicts the teaching side of Charles Willeford from his days with the English department of Miami-Dade Community College. Using clichés made incoherent with big words, Willeford shows his students that simple sentences are better.

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