“We’re all cowards,” Coley said. “There’s no such thing as
courage. There’s only the fear of getting hurt and a fear
of dying. That’s why the human race has lasted so long. You
won’t have any pain with this. I’m going to freeze your
face. Do you want to see yourself now?
“Yes,” Parry said.
“Sit up and take a look in that mirror.” Coley pointed
to a mirror that topped one of the cabinets.
Parry looked at himself.
“It’s a fairly good face,” Coley said. “It’ll be even
better when I’m done with it. And it’ll be very
from Ed Holub Retracing
the Footsteps of David Goodis, America's Great Lost
Philadelphia's Noir Prince
while it gets so bad that you want to stop the whole
business. You figure that there’s no use in trying to fight
back. Things are set dead against you and the sooner you
give up the better. It’s like a mile run. You’re back there
in seventh place and there isn’t a chance in the world. The
feet are burning, the lungs are bursting, and all you want
to do is fall down and take a
paragraph of David Goodis’ first novelRetreat from Oblivion
David Goodis surrounded by Lauren Bacall and Humphrey
Bogart. Notice the lines of B&B's clothing and Bogart's
real hairline. Photo courtesy of April Feld
began the writing career of David Goodis. Typical Goodis. A
statement of frustration, introducing a tale of gloom,
depression and despair. Noir at its blackest.
David Goodis was Philadelphia’s noir prince. After
graduating from Temple University in 1938, Goodis moved to
New York where he wrote advertising copy, radio scripts and
thousands of words for pulp magazines. In the mid-1940’s he
was in Hollywood as a screenwriter. He crashed and returned
to his parents’ home in Philadelphia, where he churned out
novels and short stories, depicting the bleakness and
darkness of lives in free fall.
Who was David Goodis and why did he write as he
Library of America has
Five Noir Novels of the 1940s and 1950sedited by Robert Polito,
director of Writing Programs at The New School.
This volume contains five Goodis classics:Dark Passage, Nightfall,
The Moon in the Gutter, The BurglarandThe Street of No
Return. Tour the
noir geography of David Goodis as he writes about San
Francisco, Manhattan, the American West, Philadelphia's
docks, working class Philadelphia, working class Atlantic
City and Philadelphia's tenderloin.
The volume is a study in Goodis' deepening inner
PassageandNightfallwere written before Goodis returned to
Philadelphia after an unhappy stint as a Hollywood writer
and a failed marriage.The Moon in the Gutter, The
BurglarandThe Street of No Returnwere written in a second
floor bedroom in Goodis' parents' home on North 11th
Street. These three Philadelphia novels are progressively
gloomy. The characters are progressively hopeless. As
Goodis advances in his career, his books address deeper and
deeper psychological themes.
Polito includes a detailed chronology of Goodis' life, from
his parents' occupations and residences, through Goodis'
education, his publications, his disastrous marriage, his
hushed romance, his brilliant descent into paperbacks, and
his demise. Polito provides notes explaining the
contemporary cultural references in the five novels.
On April 19,
2012 Goodisheads gathered at the Free Library of
Philadelphia to celebrate the release of the Goodis
anthology. Editor Robert Polito proclaimed, "It's great to
be in Goodisville or Goodis Country. How similar things are
as when Goodis wrote his novels and how different they
are." NoirCON founder Louis Boxer discussed the life of
David Goodis. Robert Polito and Geoffrey O'Brien read from
Goodis novels. They completed the evening with a panel
Blogger Adam Finestone joins Goodis acquaintance and public
relations specialist Andrew Kevorkian at a publication
party at the Pyramid Club. Kevorkian attended the funeral
of David Goodis.
Lou Boxer, founder of NoirCON, Robert Poliito, Adam
Finestone and Andrew Kevorkian
Educator and writer Ed Petit hosted the panel discussion.
Petit is the authority on two great Phliadelphia writers
from an earlier age, George Lippard (1822-1854) and Edgar
Allan Poe (1809-1849). These Philly guys---Goodis, Lippard
and Poe---princes of noir. Robert
Louis Boxer, Geoffrey O'Brien and Robert Polito discuss the
life and writings of David Goodis
Brian Greene is a
freelance writer from North Carolina. He writes regularly
for Shindig! music magazine from
the UK, and he is working on a biography of the late
British crime writer/cult figure, Ted
Jay Gertzman on A Moribund
Segment of Goodisville
A mile outside the City Between Two Rivers, January Cold
came in, formed four walls around them and closed in on the
Thirteen. Gathered to remember the Prince of Noir, they
read from his works, told tales, and raised his Shade from
the bleak grave.
January 25, 2009, just hours before the 42nd anniversary of
the death of David Goodis according to the Hebrew calendar,
13 militant Goodisheads gathered at Roosevelt Cemetery to
remember Philadelphia's Prince of Noir.