RARA-AVIS: Re: Anyway, Goodis

From: uplandharmabooks ( uplandharmabooks@yahoo.com)
Date: 04 Jan 2007

I've read several of Goodis' and consider him one of the masters of noir. I think he's one of the bleakest of the bleak. He very rarely has the dark humor of Thompson or Willeford to kind of relieve the pervasive depression, but I enjoy them in a perverse kind of way because he's just so damn good. After reading one of his I have to pick up something lighter like Charles Williams or watch a brain-candy movie. LOL


--- In rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com, Michael Robison
<miker_zspider@...> wrote:
> First, thanks to everybody for all the recommendations
> on Bukowski. I've got three of his novels on order.
> The Beat goes on.
> Anyway, Goodis. I suck at coming up with spontaneous
> comments but I'm going to give it a shot. Coming late
> to the hardboiled and noir genre, I spent several
> years moving about from author to author, and only
> coming back if I had to. So unlike a lot of people
> here who are well-read in Goodis, I only recently
> added Cassidy's Girl to Shoot the Piano Player.
> I think that Shoot the Piano Player is a movie rename
> for a novel of his by a different title. The protag
> was very talented concert pianist. He's happy and all
> if wonderful and he says something that upsets his
> wife and she kills herself. He blames himself and
> abandons the piano and heads down a path of violence
> and self-destruction. He settles down a little and
> when the book starts, he's playing piano in a sleazy
> bar and keeping to himself. A woman stirs him from
> his apathy and he goes back into the violence
> business.
> Goodis doesn't use a lot of words to describe the old
> hotels and sleazy bars his characters frequent, but he
> doesn't need many. He can dial a scene in in a couple
> short sentences. The people are the same. The lady
> contortionist who boarded in a room close to his is
> vividly done in a short paragraph. It's been a while
> since I've read this book, but I don't remember the
> female fitting femme fatale jacket very well.
> In a big chunk of noir the protagonist heads towards
> his downfall for reasons of greed or lust, an
> escalating pattern of moral transgression. Cassidy's
> Girl breaks from this. Cassidy is a successful
> airline pilot, the clean-cut college graduate that all
> the good girls like. Then a plane goes down through
> no fault of his own and he takes the blame. As in
> Shoot the Piano Player, this drives the protag to
> violence, drinking, and slumming. Cassidy's Girl
> differs in that it has a genuine femme fatale. There
> is a fair amount of violence.
> These books have a lot in common as far as plot, but
> the two books don't read like one. They are
> distinctly different. Both men start out successful
> and talented in a skilled job beyond blue collar. The
> both lose it and take up violence and slumming, and
> appear to do a damn good job at it. Alcoholism is a
> much stronger theme in Cassidy's Girl. I don't have
> the books here in front of me but I would guess that
> Cassidy's Girl came several years after the other one.
> Both books were good, but I see Cassidy's Girl as the
> better book. It's more complex and the ironic twist
> at the end is wonderful. Because Goodis's books are
> short, he only fleshes out two or three characters
> solidly, but still doing justice to the secondary
> characters.
> Man. I've written quite a bit here and said damn
> little. Haha! Par for the course. Let me wrap this
> up. In both books I think Goodis is definitely
> indulging in glorifying the situation in all its
> sordid splendor. Both protags are good fighters, and
> Goodis goes into detail about how well-built Cassidy
> is. The women are more than standard femmes fatale.
> I see Cassidy as having parallels to Job. For the
> most part, he doesn't deserve the bad that comes his
> way. I'm not sure about Doris in the novel. I get
> the feeling that she's been unfairly written off at
> the end of the book. I suspect a bit of sloppiness
> here, but the jury is still out on that.
> miker
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