The mysterious life of David Goodis


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.


4 Responses

  1. Pulp Curry continues to do right by David Goodis! Thank you Andre and Philippe.

  2. Good article. Started reading his PIANO PLAYER novel years ago, just never got around to finishing it. Amusing how the target audience was working stiffs.. Similar to “Shakespeare of Sleaze” Orrie Hit.
    By the way, thanks for keeping the link to my Z7’s HQ, but I have recently re-branded the website as “Spy Safe House”- The old one no longer works.

  3. Tim,
    I think the comparison between David Goodis & Orrie Hitt is not a bad one in terms of their style and audience. If I remember correctly, however, Hitt was a clean living family man, where as Goodis had special proclivities.

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