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David Goodis: Five Noir Novels of the 1940s and 50s (Library of America) Hardcover – March 29, 2012
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This book contains 5 other works by Goodis. What surprised me is that while the neighborhood and atmosphere in each of the entries is similar, there is significant variation in characters, plot and treatment; more so than I found in the volumes dedicated to Chandler and Hammett.
Moon in the Gutter is my favorite novel in the book. On the surface, the plot involves the search for revenge by a man whose sister has been raped. It is, more importantly, about the futility felt by William Kerrigan in trying to rise above his class. In the aftermath of meeting uptown girl Newton Channing, Goodis writes, "It struck him full force. the unavoidable knowledge that he was riding through life on fourth-class ticket." Kerrigan most fears the disdain that would be directed at him as he tries to pass among her friends: "It would show in their eyes, no matter how they tried to hide it." He considers how much happier he could be but concludes, "You better wise up to yourself and stay out of the clouds."
The plot drives relentlessly to its conclusion both in Kerrigan's search for revenge and in his romance with Channing. The story illustrates Dennis Lehane's characterization of noir as uniquely working class tragedy; stories of loss and of people unable to change. "No art form I know of rages against the machine more violently than noir," says Lehane.
In The Burglar, Goodis writes about a criminal gang as dysfunctional family. As the leader, Harbin is both thief and strong adherent of a moral code.Read more ›
All the novels assembled here were filmed, all with big stars, but none of the films was a big hit.
`Dark Passage' was filmed with Bogie & Bacall. The story is an anticipation of the Fugitive (the author actually sued the TV producer, and won the case posthumously. His estate settled for a small compensation), an archetype of crime fiction. That guarantees some suspense with minimal effort. The hero is jailed for killing his wife. IHe didn't do it. He escapes from St. Quentin and meets all kinds of people on the run. The killer of the wife gets disclosed in the process. As experienced crime consumers we have a hunch soon enough.
We realize after a while that the key to the plot is the hero's problem with women. All women seem to bully him or try to boss him around, even the good girl appears threatening to him.
`Nightfall' is a similar plot: innocent man gets entangled in major crime by sheer accident (literally: the bad guys have a road accident and the good guy comes along and wants to help) and struggles to disentangle himself. It was filmed with Aldo Ray and Anne Bancroft. Suspenseful and with brilliant dialogues, but, like the Dark Passage, it suffers a little from excessive explanations. People in real life do not really have this urge of explaining.
`The Burglar' is about a career criminal with emotions and loyalty.Read more ›
An enigmatic person and writer, Goodis (1917 -- 1967) was born in Philadelphia to middle-class Jewish parents and graduated from Temple University. He published his first novel at the age of 22 and spent several years producing a large quantity of words for pulp magazines and learning the craft of a writer. In the mid 1940's, Goodis moved to Hollywood, had a short unhappy marriage, and wrote further novels. Then, in 1950 he returned to Philadelphia where he lived with his parents and did the remainder of his writing. The novels he wrote in Hollywood were published in hardcover while the many novels he wrote in Philadelphia were published in cheap paperback editions with lurid covers and were probably deemed to have no lasting value. Goodis did most of his writing between 1951-- 1961. In 1966, Goodis was mugged, and he died the following year with no surviving family.
The background in pulp magazines and in screenwriting is apparent throughout this volume of Goodis' writings.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This collection is outstanding, but the stories contained within all tend to have a similar pessimistic outlook on life. Read morePublished 4 days ago by StarSearcher
Definitely readable but never superlative. Original, interesting stories but the writing is workmanlike, not brilliant. Read morePublished 1 month ago by N. Andreassen
My favorite film genre made this anthology a must for me. I'd read Goodis and seen the classic Bogart-Bacall film, Dark Passage. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Mark Blilie
A noir forgotten writer that has been typically overshadowed by Hammett, Cain and Chandler. More of a fluid east-coast feel here.Published 13 months ago by Scott
This is an amazing book. If you are already a fan of David Goodis, then you'll want this sturdy, handsome, archivally produced book in your collection. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Mr. and Mrs. Buddy Lee
I'll start by saying that I cannot describe the plot in these five novels which are ALL excellent reads. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Dan Allen