Monday, January 26, 2009

The David Goodis memorial

January cold came in from two rivers around a dozen David Goodis fans Sunday. The twelve of us had gathered by the great Philadelphia noir writer's grave site to read from his work and talk about him. We then repaired to a local diner, echoing a gathering of Goodis' friends after his funeral.

I probably had read less of Goodis than anyone else in the group, several of whom had met Goodis, and one of whom had taught him to shoot pool ("He was as bad as you can get."). But I read a selection from his 1953 story "Black Pudding" for its note of hope and even redemption, touching and unexpected from this darkest of noir writers.

Lou Boxer, of Noircon fame, read from Goodis' first book, Retreat From Oblivion. Some might call the passage maudlin, the sentimental work of a writer barely out of his twenties. I say it showed a man thinking more seriously about death than most crime writers ever do, and I'll be seeking out more of Goodis.

Duane Swierczynski posts some photos and video.

© Peter Rozovsky 2009

Labels:

16 Comments:

Blogger seanag said...

That's wonderful that you all braved the cold and celebrated his existence today. Where can we find that 'Black Pudding' story?

January 26, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The story is available in the excellent Hard-Boiled anthology. Duane S. also posted video of me reading, but the cold, whistling wind hampers the sound quality, and the clip cuts off just before the story's end.

January 26, 2009  
Blogger Loren Eaton said...

I say it showed a man thinking more seriously about death than most crime writers ever do.

Didn't Plato say that the wise philosopher is always seeking death and dying? It is the end of all flesh, after all.

January 26, 2009  
Blogger marco said...

you look naked to me without the beard

v-word:aloto

January 26, 2009  
Blogger Ed said...

You look as naked as a chubby Cambodian hottie.

January 26, 2009  
Blogger seanag said...

That was a nice little piece, and the wind didn't really hamper the hearing of it at all. I'll have to check out the story in its entirety, though.

January 26, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

And Montaigne wrote that to philosophize is to learn how to die. And what is Hamlet but an extended meditation and furstrated musing on the impossibility of confronting death? Well, a lot of things, but that's one of them.

The Goodis passage, of which I hope to able to get a copy soon, reminds me more of a passage from Alcestis, where the title charactergoes to the underworld, then returns, only to report, if I recall right, that the gods are nothing, death is nothing.

January 26, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I think a beard's potential as insulation against the cold is overrated.

January 26, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

My legs are visible in the shot, so anyone can see that I'm wearing far more than chubby Cambodian hotties.

January 26, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

It's quite a story, Seana. In a way I'm glad it was my first real exposure to Goodis. Now I'll be alert for signs of the romatic or at least desperately yearning side of his writing, which I might not have noticed otherwise.

January 26, 2009  
Blogger Brian O'Rourke said...

Peter -

You and the others are a brave lot, facing the Philadelphian elements this time of year.

-B

January 26, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Ah, I think we were just over the line in Bucks County. I'm sure it was much warmer in Philadelphia.

January 27, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Hmm, two of the attendees wrote on their blogs that thirteen people attended. Twelve or thirteen -- either would be an evocative number, as would be the idea of a missing thirteenth. Whatever the number, it was a respectable and enjoyable crowd.

January 27, 2009  
Blogger marco said...

I have nothing to add,I was just reading the comments,but after noticing my v-word is mericat,I can't avoid mentioning Shirley Jackson's masterpiece,We Have Always Lived in the Castle.
You can all return to regular programming after this short break brought to you by the Verificator.

January 27, 2009  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

"I'll be alert for signs of the romantic or at least desperately yearning side of his writing..."

Peter, I just finished what I think is my first reading of a David Goodis short story, "Professional Man," 1953 (great year), and it was all that and more.

A beautifully sad, intensely noir variant on "For never was a story of more woe / Than this of Juliet and her Romeo." I'm visualizing a mid-century modern version of Kenneth MacMillan's ballet to the Prokofiev score with Alessandra Ferri as Pearl/Juliet and Wayne Eagling as Freddy/Romeo. I kid you not! Read it. It was about the only story I really liked in the recent "The Best American Noir of the Century" anthology. Can't get it out of my head.

And the references to real Phila. streets and neighborhoods--and the denouement in Fairmount Park. Wow.

yes, my v-word = denies

February 05, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Since making this psot, I have read Goodis' novel Black Friday (very good) and seen the movie based on his novel Nightfall (not bad). But I had not heard of "Professional Man." Thanks.

February 05, 2011  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home