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Published in 1930, Poor Fool was Erskine Caldwell's second novel. Like most of his fiction, it revolves around a gallery of grotesque characters motivated by the basest urges. The novel's central figure is Blondy Niles, a down-and-out boxer who exists at the very fringes of society. The garish nighttime world of bars and prostitutes, con men and petty crimes is the milieu in which he moves. When he is approached by Salty Banks to be an unwitting fall guy in a rigged boxing scheme, a calamitous chain of events is set in motion, and death is the inevitable result.
Blondy is befriended by a good-hearted prostitute, Louise, but then comes under the powerful, mysterious spell of the gruesome Mrs. Boxx, an enormous, soulless woman who lures him to her house, which has been converted into the most primitive of abortion mills. Despite the terrible acts Mrs. Boxx oversees and that Blondy is compelled to participate in, he inexplicably finds himself unable - or unwilling - to leave this chamber of horror. Only with the help of Dorothy, Mrs. Boxx's younger, daughter, does he finally free himself from the clutches of this demonic, madwoman. Yet freedom proves elusive, for by the end of this surreal, phantasmagoric adventure, Blondy and everyone he cares for have come to a bloody end.
Caldwell himself likened Poor Fool to a "diabolical dream." Written early in his career, it foreshadows many of the themes that were to characterize his later novels.


Used availability for Erskine Caldwell's Poor Fool

Paperback Editions

November 1994 : USA Paperback

Title: Poor Fool (Voices of the South)
Author(s): Erskine Caldwell
ISBN: 0-8071-1947-4 / 978-0-8071-1947-1 (USA edition)
Publisher: Louisiana State Univ Pr
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   

October 1994 : USA Paperback

Title: Poor Fool
Author(s): Erskine Caldwell
ISBN: 0-8074-4947-4 / 978-0-8074-4947-9 (USA edition)
Publisher: Louisiana State University Press
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA