Re: RARA-AVIS: Rare Books Continued - Behold This Woman

From: Jeff Vorzimmer (
Date: 17 Sep 2008

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    I had the same take as you for the first third of the book or so. Goodis spends the good part of a chapter describing how Clara trys to match her mood to a color for the day and then proceeds to explain how she works that color into her day from bath soap and towels to her clothing. I couldn't see how it served the narrative other than to show how self-indulgent a person she was.

    Even half way through the book I was wondering if it was even a crime novel. But with the introduction of the character of Clard (only one character different from Clara--interesting) fairly late in the novel, the story started to fascinate me. Goodis teases you with this mysterious character until the very end.


    > Interesting to hear such a positive response, Jeff. I had the opposite
    > reaction. It's the only one of Goodis's books I struggled to finish.
    > Possibly because his career-long technique of associating characters with
    > colours is so invasive. At one point a character is described as having 'a
    > yellow day' (I think it's yellow). Colour coding is an effective technique
    > when done well (as in a great scene in Night Squad where the protag is
    > conflicted about which tie to wear, one green and the other yellow, the
    > colours having been set up throughout to represent the two women in his
    > life), but it cripples the narrative here. Check any random couple of
    > pages
    > and I bet you find a colour reference. The melodrama in Behold This Woman
    > may be a good one, I couldn't say. I find it hard to believe in the big
    > picture when the details don't work. But maybe I'm just having a yellow
    > day.
    > Al

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