The Burnt Orange Heresy

By Charles Willeford,

Book cover of The Burnt Orange Heresy

Book description

The classic neo-noir novel acclaimed as Willeford s best, soon to be a major film

Fast-talking, backstabbing, womanizing, and fiercely ambitious art critic James Figueras will do anything blackmail, burglary, and beyond to make a name for himself. When an unscrupulous collector offers Figueras a career-making chance to interview Jacques…

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Why read it?

2 authors picked The Burnt Orange Heresy as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

This noir pastiche is one long joke, a satire on art, art criticism, and art collecting.

James Figueras, a cad bachelor freelance art critic in 1960s Palm Beach, is tasked with stealing a painting by the (fictional) French artist Jacques Deberiue.

Deberiue was the founder of the Nihilistic Surrealism movement who retired after the creation of one work, No. One: an empty frame mounted around a crack in a wall. The trail leads to the dusty outskirts of Miami and a bloody murder in the Everglades, but the real mystery surrounds the artist and his art.

And the fun…

It is a splendid piece of noir that centers on James Figueras, an art critic looking for a big break and has no qualms about how it’s to come about, even if it means breaking the law. What’s subtly woven into the narrative are questions of racial identity. Figueras is a Puerto Rican man whose blonde hair and blue-eyed appearance grant him the ease of moving through the wealthy, overwhelmingly white art world. Here, Willeford suggests that much of Figueras’s social currency comes from his ability to blend into his surroundings, and despite his swindling nature his pedigree as an…

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