Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Anyway, Goodis

Date: 04 Jan 2007

David wrote:

"which Goodis book, would y'all say, has a second half as satifyingly unsatisfying as the first?"

I've found that Goodis can be a pretty horrible plotter. Look at Dark Passage. An escaped convict gets into a cab. The driver immediately recognizes him. He tells the escapee that he always believed he got a bum rap and, oh, by the way, I happen to know a plastic surgeon if you happen to need one. Come on! And that's far from the only plot convenience in the book. Have no idea why I went on to a second Goodis novel (perhaps because there were three more in that Black Box Thriller anthology), but I'm very glad I did.

I went on to read all of the Goodis I could get hold of. It's been a while since I've read him (should correct that), but here's what I remember in general: None of his other plots was quite as contrived as Dark Passage, but the plots never really seemed to be the point of his books, simply vehicles to explore his characters. And he seems to reuse basic set ups and relationships (the protag is often torn between two women, one small, the other large), offering variations on themes more than completely discrete works.

However, there is one that seemed to me to strike a perfect balance between plot and character, The Street of No Return. It features another of his fallen men, another musician. It starts with him sharing a bottle with two other alkies on a street corner. He sees a woman he thinks he recognizes from his past and follows her, from a distance. She sparks rememberances of things past he has been trying to remember to forget. I was particularly impressed by the construction of the novel, how where he ends up relates to where he began. An awful movie was made from this great book.


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