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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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David Goodis: Five Noir Novels of the 1940s and 50s (Library of America) + American Noir: 11 Classic Crime Novels of the 1930s, 40s, & 50s (Library of America) + Dashiell Hammett Complete Novels: Red Harvest, The Dain Curse, The Maltese Falcon, The Glass Key, and The Thin Man (Library of America #110)
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Product Details

  • Series: Library of America (Book 225)
  • Hardcover: 848 pages
  • Publisher: Library of America; First Edition edition (March 29, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1598531484
  • ISBN-13: 978-1598531480
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.4 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #150,786 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

ROBERT POLITO, editor, is a poet, biographer, and critic whose Savage Art: A Biography of Jim Thompson received the National Book Critics Circle Award. He directs the Graduate Writing Program at the New School.

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Customer Reviews

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I read all five in succession.
Avid Reader
Overall, Goodis exhibits a lot of the qualities of good noir writing.
A. McNeil
Goodis did most of his writing between 1951-- 1961.
Robin Friedman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 51 people found the following review helpful By The Ginger Man VINE VOICE on May 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Library of America previously published multiple volumes by Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett as well as noir collections from the decades of the forties and fifties. David Goodis' novel Down There is included in the latter collection.

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.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By H. Schneider on November 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Library of America chose this writer, David Goodis, for a volume of 5 noir novels from the 1940s and 50s. Goodis was prolific in the pulp genre, under his own name and under various pseudonyms. I thought I had never heard of him, but I was wrong. He wrote the novel on which Truffaut's film about not shooting the piano player was based. That is included in another LoA volume, an earlier noir sampler.
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.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I first read David Goodis in the two-volume Library of America set of 11 noir novels written from the 1930's -- 1950's. The second volume of the set included Goodis' 1956 novel, "Down There" which because the basis of Francois Truffaut's 1960 film, "Shoot the Piano Player". I needed to know more of Goodis. Fortunately, the Library of America had recently published this volume devoted entirely to Goodis and including five novels he wrote in the 1940's and 1950's. Robert Polito, a noted scholar of noir who prepared the earlier LOA volumes, edited this volume of Goodis' novels. I have read and reviewed each of the five novels individually with links provided at the end of this review. It has been a long time since I have been so taken with the works of a writer new to me.

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.
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