Tag Archives: David Goodis

Book Review: Getting Carter, Ted Lewis & the Birth of Brit Noir

The time is past when one could accurately describe Ted Lewis as a lost or under appreciated author. His best books have recently been re-released, Mike Hodge’s 1971 film, Get Carter, based on Lewis second novel, Jack’s Return Home, continues to be seen as a crime cinema classic, and Lewis’s profound, albeit posthumous, influence on the origins on Brit Noir is regularly reiterated by many of the leading lights of crime fiction.

But we know little about Lewis as a person and the influences on his work. Nick Triplow’s Getting Carter: Ted Lewis and the Birth of Brit Noir is obviously the product of considerable time, energy and shoe leather spent hunting down the facts of Lewis’s life. That Triplow doesn’t completely succeed in unravelling all the mysteries surrounding Lewis’s spectacular rise and fall is not for want of trying and, it must be stressed, the book is none the worse for it.

Contemporary literary culture, with its focus on the writer’s journey, literature as personal confession and the book scribe as media celebrity, is a relatively new phenomena. Lewis went to his grave without leaving a detailed archive of papers or journals and having only done a handful of newspaper interviews. He had neither the time nor, one suspects, inclination to record his inner most thoughts.… Read more

My NoirCon places

goodisIn just under a month from now, one of the most interesting literary festivals I have had the pleasure of attending kicks off in the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia, the home of Edgar Allen Poe and David Goodis: NoirCon.

This year, NoirCon runs from October 26 to 30. If you already plan on attending, see you there. If not, now is the time to register.

It’s runs is not your common or garden-variety festival. No way. And that is a very good thing. The focus is firmly on noir, mainly fiction, but also film, poetry or whatever (and that last category, ‘whatever’, encapsulates some pretty bizarre material). It is great to sit in a room of people who, more or less, are all on the same page about their love of noir.

Anyway, NoirCon’s organiser, Lou Boxer, has come up with another terrific program, including some special guest, which you can view in detail here.

This year, I am thrilled to say I will be part of the program. I’ll be presenting on the morning of Friday, October 28, on the history of Australian pulp paperback publishing. I’m also reading at the Noir at the Bar as part of NoirCon, which will take place from 6.30pm at the Pen & Pencil Club, 1522 Latimer Street, Philadelphia, hosted by the inevitable Philly crime fiction identity, Peter Rozovsky.… Read more

The mysterious life of David Goodis

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Literary obscurity is a curious beast. Why do some writers get discovered and stay famous, while others, perhaps just as good, possibly even better, remain undiscovered or burn brightly for a brief period only to become completely unknown? Is it talent, perseverance, astute management, zeitgeist, or just plain luck? And the process by which forgotten writers are rediscovered can be even stranger.

The ebb and flow of literary fame is one of the undercurrents running through French-born, Los Angeles–based journalist Philippe Garnier’s biography of David Goodis, Goodis: A Life in Black and White. Published in France 30 years ago, it was only translated and published in English for the first time in 2013.

Goodis is seen as one of the preeminent noir writers of his era, the heyday of pulp publishing in the late 1940s and 1950s, and, according to Garnier, “has become a cottage industry of mind-boggling proportions in his own country.”

It wasn’t always so.

You can read the rest of my review of Philippe Garnier’s Goodis bio, Goodis: A Life in Black and White, here on the Los Angeles Review of Books site.

The Burglar and unbearable anxiety of late film noir

burglarlc8What I love about the canon of cinema known as film noir is just when you think you’ve seen the all important films, along comes something and blows you away.

Thus was the case recently when I watched the 1957 film The Burglar, based on the book by one of the doyens of classic noir fiction, David Goodis, who also wrote the screenplay.

It begins with a cinema newsreel story titled “Estate sold to spiritualist cult in strange bargain”. The breathless voiceover tells cinemagoers how a millionaire called Bartram Jonesworth has died and left his estate, including a mansion and an emerald necklace, to an aging spiritualist called Sister Sarah.

In the cinema audience is career burglar Nat Harbin (long time TV and movie actor, Dan Duryea). So keen is he to get to work on what could be the score of a lifetime, he doesn’t stay for the feature, he bolts outside and starts thinking about how they can steal the necklace.

He gets his stepsister, Gladden (Jayne Mansfield) to case the mansion under the pretences of visiting to make a donation to Sister Sarah’s work. Gladden informs Harbin and his associates, Baylock and Dohmer, the necklace is kept in a safe in Sister Sarah’s bedroom. The best time to make a move is the fifteen-minute window at eleven o’clock each night during which the spiritualist always watches her favourite news show.… Read more

Pulp Friday: Night Squad by David Goodis

Night Squad“They gave him back his badge – and sent him down into the brutal throbbing heart of the slums.”

The first Pulp Friday for 2014 needs no introduction, Night Squad by the legendary US noir writer, David Goodis.

The cover above is from the first printed edition of the book, by Gold Medal Books in 1961.

I love the seamy noir atmosphere created by this cover. I also love the back cover blurb:

“The loneliest man on earth.

The Night Squad wanted Corey on its team, and the racket boys wanted him, too.

The trouble was that Corey wanted them both. But the cops had offered Corey only a badge, while Walter Grogan had bribed him with big money. Both sides were brutal, both knew as much about the slums as the rats infesting it. And Corey Bradford walked a tightrope between them, not knowing whether the man who smiled at him one day would be aiming a bullet at his head the next.”

Enjoy.

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