Re: RARA-AVIS: David Goodis review

From: Allan Guthrie (
Date: 01 Nov 2006

My experience is very different from Jeff's. I read one Goodis novel and, somehow (maybe I'm just perverse), felt propelled to 'dig up' the rest. I've only read one that was disappointing. Most of them I'd rate as (at least) very good, with six or seven stand-outs. And I don't think he's anywhere near as uneven as certain of his contemporaries. Gil Brewer springs immediately to mind.


  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Jeff Vorzimmer
  Sent: Wednesday, November 01, 2006 4:10 AM
  Subject: Re: RARA-AVIS: David Goodis review

> 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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