Re: RARA-AVIS: David Goodis review

From: Jeff Vorzimmer (
Date: 31 Oct 2006

> Thanks for this. It's timely for me because I'm just in the middle of
> reading "Shoot the Piano Player", my first exposure to Goodis. (Suggested
> Mr. Crider's video'd queries, "Goodis or Thompson?")

Bill's was an interesting question. On one hand I have been totally enraptured by Thompson's writing although I never considered him a great writer. Goodis' writing has moments of absolute brilliance but he doesn't always hold my attention. With Goodis you have what I call James M. Cain moments where you can't decide whether a book of his is total shit or one of the great books of the twentieth century. Goodis has written novels that I think are probably some of the best of the century and rank up there with Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Steinbeck, Dos Passos, O'Hara, etc. But his writing is the most uneven of the second generation of hardboiled writers.

As an example I would say Street of the Lost is probably one of the great books of the century. It is overlooked because it's scarce, having had, by my count, only two printings and that in paperback and for the fact that you would probably have to endure a lot of novels of his that range somewhere between the mediocre and good, before you get to a novel such as Street of the Lost. Also, there aren't any of those really good reads among his books that propel you to dig up more, the way there are with Thompson, Brown, Latimer, Williams, etc.

Street of the Lost is very much like Nelson Algren's Walk on the Wild Side, but superior to it in every way, yet you can walk into almost any bookstore and find Algren's, but not a single copy of any of Goodis books'.


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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 01 Nov 2006 EST