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.