Re: RARA-AVIS: Thompson or Goodis?

From: Doug Bassett (
Date: 01 Oct 2006


Like a lot of cynics, Thompson was, I think, a wounded Romantic. When I was somewhat younger his books spoke to me, but as time has gone on, while I still appreciate Thompson's moments of utter brilliance, his books as a whole seem to me too often to be unwieldly, ramshackle kinds of affairs.

(I think his best books are probably A HELL OF A WOMAN and THE GETAWAY, although my personal favorite is POP 1280, which is all over the place but is often very winning in a blackly humorous way.)

I'm more of a Goodis man, I guess. I think at his best his books are absolute perfection, cold, clear, not a wasted word, with a crystalline structure. He's very wise, I think, about human psychology and frailities, and at his best manages to avoid the self-pity that clots up Woolrich, for instance.

(My favorite Goodis book is DOWN THERE/SHOOT THE PIANO PLAYER.)


PS. I like both Bogart and Mitchum, but Mitchum's a little more approachable, I think. You can fantasize that at your best you might be Mitchum; you'd never be Bogart.

--- Dave Zeltserman <> wrote:

> Bill Crider has been posting very entertaining video
> on his blog,
>, where he has been
> interviewing
> folks at Bouchercon, mostly with this question,
> along with the
> choice of Bogart or Mitchum.
> It would be interesting to see how RARA AVIS folks
> respond to this.
> Personally, I put Thompson and Hammett at the top
> (although I
> consider Rex Stout the best pure writer of all the
> crime fiction
> writers of the last 70 years), with everyone else
> somewhere below--
> Goodis somewhere under Willeford and slightly above
> Dan Marlowe.
> Goodis is probably a technically sounder writer than
> Thompson, but
> Thompson hits moment of absolute brilliance in his
> writing that puts
> him at a special level--at least for me.
> As far as Bogart or Mitchum--with all due respect to
> Robert Mitchum,
> who was great in Night of the Hunter and Out of the
> Past, I'd have
> to pick Bogart in a landslide. Range and screen
> presense he showed
> in Treasure of Sierre Madre, Maltese Falcon,
> Casablanca, African
> Queen, The Roaring Twenties, The Petrified Forest,
> The Caine Mutiny,
> In a Lonely Place, among many others, could only be
> rivaled by
> Cagney, DeNiro, and maybe Pacino.

Doug Bassett

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