RARA-AVIS: Re: Anyway, Goodis

From: Edward Pettit ( epetti01@yahoo.com)
Date: 04 Jan 2007

I just finished Goodis' Down There (filmed by Truffaut as Shoot the Piano Player, which I saw about 20 years ago and remember not one frame). I've only read two other Goodis titles, Black Friday and Of Tender Sin, both of which I immensely enjoyed. My first impression of Down There? Bleak. And I mean really fucking bleak. Not a book to warm the cockles of any true sinner's heart. Sometimes, I read these noir novels and I think, man, why do I put myself in these hellish worlds. But I guess it's because I get to come out unscathed, basking in the good world of my wife and kids. And also, I fear that my life could have ended up like one of these empty- souled drifters. But it didn't. And that makes all the difference.

I was reading the Black Box Thriller edition containing four Goodis novels and the introduction likens Goodis' novels to the world after Bogart's Ric comes home from Casablanca, down-and-out, his life a little less than that hill of beans. But I think Goodis' stories are worse. His characters are like Bogart's Rick in which Ilsa never returns for one last reminder of past happiness. In Goodis' books, Ilsa has already been tortured and killed by the Nazis. Or worse yet, Ilsa returns, a closet Nazi herself, only to torture Rick until he begins to like the torture, to thrive on it.

Hard stuff. Think I'll go upstairs and read another.

Looking forward to GoodisCon in Philly this weekend.


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