Geoffrey O'Brien sidesteps such matters neatly when talking about David Goodis. The American literary canon, he said -- and he used the word without hesitation or explanation -- exists, but it's expanding constantly into the future, as time passes, and also into the past.
O'Brien's remarks carry considerable weight because he's editor-in-chief of the Library of America, probably the closest thing to an American literary canon, and because LoA has just published David Goodis: Five Noir Novels of the 1940s and 1950s. O'Brien joined the Library of America in 1992 and has been editor-in-chief since 1998, and he says he's been reading Goodis since he was 14 years old. I don't know about you, but I like the idea of genre fiction having a mole on the inside of high American culture. During his tenure, Philip K. Dick had joined the canon, as have Jim Thompson, Cornell Woolrich, James M. Cain, Patricia Highsmith, and now, with his own volume, Goodis.
So, any more Goodis on its way to the canon? "We will continue to talk about Goodis," O'Brien told a questioner at the Free Library of Philadelphia. "That's for sure."
© Peter Rozovsky 2012