THE POET OF THE LOSERS
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Ed Holub: Retracing the Footsteps of David Goodis, America's Great Lost Noir Writer
“After a 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 rest.”
----First paragraph of David Goodis’ first novel Retreat from Oblivion (1939).
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 Sandor.
So 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 did?
Goodis in Finland
"Shoot the Piano Player" also called "Down There" translated into Finnish as "Melody of Murder."
Goodis Fever has reached the Arctic Circle. Finnish crime writer and Goodishead Tapani Bagge is writing an article on David Goodis, the Garnier book and the Withers documentary for Ruumiin kultuuri, the magazine of the Finnish Whodunnit Society.
Shooting Pool with David Goodis
Elaine Astor, the Mysterious Mrs. Goodis
Behold This Woman
Goodis on Goodis
The Uncertain Death of David Goodis
Funeral and Beyond
Library of America's Goodis Anthology
Fantasy World of David Goodis
Where Goodis Wrote: House on North 11th Street
The Mystery and Legend of David Goodis
The Soul of David Goodis
Goodis in Hollywood
Bill Sherman's Tribute from 1968
The Lost Works
David Goodis in Film
The Night Editor
The Bad and the Beautiful
Goodis on You Tube
Lou Boxer's Photos
Mike Dennis on Cassidy's Girl
The Burglar Revisited
Brian Greene Reviews Larry Withers' Film "To A Pulp"
Truffaut and Goodis
2014 CAR-a-van from Hell
Jawntes: A Local Writer and His Roots
A Tragic Tale of Movie Making
Mike Dennis on The Blonde on the Street Corner
Cullen Gallagher on Critical Perspectives
Cullen Gallagher on Fire in the Flesh
Cullen Gallagher on Of Missing Persons
Selections From the Best of Goodis
The Last Letter (?)
Charlotte Halpern Remembers David Goodis
The Temple Archives
Philadelphia City Council Honors Goodis
Frank Ford and Mortimer Gurmshire
Jay Gertzman on Goodis
Herb Gross Remembers David Goodis
Gary Lovisi: "He Lived It As Well"
Brian Kellman: "Working Title"
Robert Polito: "Words & Words"
David Schmid: "What David Goodis Means to Me"
Selma Burke, Girlfriend of David Goodis
Louis Boxer: "Finding David Goodis"
Len Cobrin: Goodis, "One of the Funniest People to Ever Have Lived"
Ken Bruen: "For the Love of Goodis"
Seymour Shubin: "I Met David Goodis Twice"
Keith O'Neill: "He, You, I: Shifting Points-of-View in Down There"
Alexander Anichkin: "WS Maugham and David Goodis"
Mike Nevins: "Boucher on Goodis"
Christopher Forth: "David Goodis: A Certain Kind of Amputation"
Bill Sherman: ". . . A Myth Grew Around Him"
Clark Howard: "I Never Met David Goodis. . . ."
Anthony Neil Smith: A "Literary Life Out in the Cold"
Michael Gabriel: "Tender Sin"
Woody Haut: "Some David Goodis Moments"
Tony Williams: "Two or Three Things I Know About David Goodis"
The Final Destruction of Goodisville
Jay Gertzman: "A Segment of Moribund Goodisville"
Brian Greene on The Blonde on the Street Corner
Max Goldberg: "No Exit"
Joe Chauncy: David Goodis on the Black Dahlia Murder
Philadelphia Weekly: Stranger than Fiction--Philadelphia Noir (David Goodis)
Links and Free EBooks
"Every character [of a Goodis] book is suffering profoundly. The main character can do nothing about it," said Geoffrey O'Brien, Editor-in-Chief of Library of America. "The 1950's drove Goodis to such relentless self-analysis."
Robert Polito, Goodis scholar and editor, and Geoffrey O'Brien, editor-in-chief of Library of America, present Goodis anthology at 2012 Philadelphia Book Festival.
Library of America has released Goodis, Five Noir Novels of the 1940s and 1950s edited 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 Burglar and The 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 torment.Dark Passage and Nightfall were written before Goodis returned to Philadelphia after an unhappy stint as a Hollywood writer and a failed marriage. The Moon in the Gutter, The Burglar and The Street of No Return were 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.
I won't tell you about the plots. Get the book.
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 discussion.
Click for coverage
Goodis film probes 'dark tendencies' and hidden lives
Brian Greene interviews
Larry Withers on "To A Pulp."
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 Lewis.
Design by Michael Gabriel
In September 1966, David Goodis' mother died. Harold Silver sent David Goodis a basket of fruit. David Goodis sent the following note to Harold Silver. (Photos by Louis Boxer)
October 30 to November 2
"Franchement, il est très difficile d'imaginer le printemps à Philadelphie."
----Philippe Garnier, Goodis biographer
In the early 1980's, Goodis' biographer, Philippe Garnier, traced the scenes of Goodis' Philadelphia stories. His conclusion: "I find it very difficult to image springtime in Philadelphia." Philippe Garnier, Goodis, vie en noir et blanc, Editions due Seuil, 1984. Video on Philippe Garnier.
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