I never met David Goodis
. . . . but he had an enormous
impact on my life as a writer
By Clark Howard
a teenager living in (and frequently running away from)
foster homes in Chicago, I spent more time in movie houses
than in school, and I spent a lot of time reading Fawcett
Gold Medal and Lion paperback novels, including most of
what David Goodis wrote. I was always delighted to see some
of his work translated to the screen, and always pleased
with Hollywood 's casting of Goodis characters: Bogart and
Bacall, Ann Sheridan, Zachary Scott, and that most
naturally Goodis type of guy, Dan Duryea.
When I began writing short stories of my own, they always
went out first to Manhunt, easily the best mystery/crime
pulp being published at that time, and for which David did,
regretfully, write too few stories. My ardent wish was to
have a story of mine in the same issue as a story of his,
but I missed that mark by about four years. The last of his
early Manhunt work was "Black Pudding" in December 1953; I
managed to sell a story of mine to that magazine, "Enough
Rope For Two," in February 1957. David came back to Manhunt
only once, years later, with the lead story, "The Sweet
Taste," in January 1965.
David and I came a little closer to brushing shoulders in
television in the 1960s, when his story, "An Out for
Oscar," ran on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour on April 5, 1963,
and mine, "Night Fever," was on two years later, on May 1,
1965. Another odd piece of trivia: Linda Christian, once
the wife of Tyrone Power, starred in David's story; today
she and I know each other and live only a mile apart in
Palm Springs, California.
I finally got my wish to be published between the same
covers as David Goodis when, in 1997, editors Ed Gorman ,
Bill Pronzini, and Martin H. Greenberg, produced the
splendid book, American Pulp, containing thirty-five
stories by "the best names in crime fiction," including,
yes, David Goodis ("The Plunge") and Clark Howard ("Horn
Man"). For me, a long ago wish come true.
Another wish I had is that I could have known David Goodis.
It saddens me that a talent such as his died just two
months shy of his 50th birthday. Today he would be ninety.
One can only imagine the gems of writing he might have
produced in those forty lost years.
Rest in peace, David Goodis.
This essay appeared in the GoodisCON program book.
A professional writer for more than 30 years, Clark Howard
has written more than 200 short stories in other genres,
but his metier is crime fiction -- his mystery stories have
won the Edgar and four Ellery Queen Reader's Awards, and
been adapted for film and television, including Alfred
Hitchcock Presents. He has also written a boxing column for
The Ring magazine.
"Since his first story appeared in 1956, Clark Howard has
become one of mystery's most honored writers. He has won
the Edgar Award for Best Short Story from the Mystery
Writers of America, and recently set a record with his
fifth Ellery Queen Readers Award. Challenge the Widow-Maker
and Other Stories of People in Peril is about ordinary
people who have not always done well with what life has
dealt them - ex-cons, hard luck boxers, aging surfers,
Puerto Rican dirt farmers, lonely old men living in
tenements. When crises enter their lives, they have to find
the strength, the humanity, to meet the challenges."