Pulp Fiction Thursday: Williwaw

I was doing another search when I stumbled into an alternate title for Gore Vidal’s 1946 war novel, Williwaw. I suspect Signet thought Dangerous Voyage was a pulpier title than Williwaw.

Here’s a thumbnail description of the book from Harry Kloman’s definitive Vidal site:

Vidal’s first novel – written when he was 19 and recovering from rheumatoid arthritis that flared up during his military service – takes place aboard an Army FS boat in the Aleutian Islands near Alaska. The title is an Indian word for a big wind, peculiar to that region of the world, which sweeps suddenly down from the mountains toward the sea. Such a wind occurs during the dramatic climax of the novel, which explore its milieu in lean, taut style. It’s a swift read, with well-constructed characters, and it coolly captures the daily routines of men on the fringe of war. And like many books of men at war, it has a moral ambiguity, although in Vidal’s nascent fictional world, there is ultimately no moral reckoning. More than 50 years after its publication, the book remains in print. In the 1950s, the paperback first edition was published under the title Dangerous Voyage, presumably because the word “williwaw” was too off-putting for general audiences.

Thanks, Harry. I’m just wild about your site.

Here are the dueling covers:

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