Rediscovered: The Kind of Willefordian Resume of David Yow

Got a note in from Devon Morf, who sprang into action on the tip I just gave out:

“Thanks for the recommendation on I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore. Watched it last night.

“Recognized the villain as David Yow, who was the vocalist for Scratch Acid and The Jesus Lizard — two noisy, raw, post-punk, rock bands that were part of my soundtrack in the 80’s and 90’s.

“Live, he was capable of exuding some of that same creepiness.”

Trust me, if you’re like me and Devon, that Netflix film is worth watching just for Yow and his flunkies, like something out of a Charles Willeford novel.

My only hesitation in giving it an all-out plug is that the movie starts slow, with no indication you’re going to get anything out of the ordinary.

In a way, nothing wrong with that — I just don’t want anyone to miss it because they can’t sense what’s coming.

As soon as the movie got into the Willefordesque stuff, I had the thought that they must have been faced with the same decision Willeford was in his final Hoke Moseley novel, The Way We Die Now.

I describe that scenario in my book on Willeford, but the gist of it is that Hoke wanders into a farm run by the bad guys — archly Willefordian bad guys. But until that moment, the reader has no indication they were that bad (pity some poor soul who picks up Willeford thinking they’re getting some run-of-the-mill crime novel).

That’s what I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore does, just plops you down in the plot with no idea something wild is coming down the road.

With Willeford, he got kickback from the publisher, saying that the way he had it generated no suspense. If you’re blissfully unaware of the snakepit Hoke is walking into, you have no time to build up worry.

So, even though he was happy with the treatment, Willeford heeded the advice and wrote the little opening chapter showing how bad the bad guys were (the justly famous or infamous scene of cutting the baggie from the asshole of the dead Haitian — you’re either rushing out to read the book, or you’re appalled and not likely to become a Willeford fan — and if you haven’t read him, try to read the four Hoke novels in order).

The story of that new opening chapter is a lot cooler than this bare bones outline, and marks a high point in Willeford’s creative output, in my opinion.

With the movie, it’s hard to say if showing the bad guys up front would have done more creatively for the surprise and delight of the viewers than the way they work it. With this film, progressing slowly toward the creepy might be best — kind of like Blue Velvet.

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