Saturday, June 23, 2012

"Such a good pal that you give me the blues"

What did I mean when I wrote that David Goodis knew how to create a mood? How about this:
"`Don't get me wrong. I'm not sore. You're a nice guy. But I don't want to listen to you any more. I don't want to see you any more.'

"`Don't leave. I hardly ever get to talk to anybody. Let me buy you a drink. I promise to keep my big mouth shut.'

"`Sorry,' Vanning said. `Thanks a lot, but you're such a good pal that you give me the blues.'"
That passage stood out from any number of more overtly heartstring-tugging depictions of loneliness in Goodis' 1947 novel Nightfall for its humor. Readers of this blog will know that I like humor in crime writing especially when it appears at unexpected moments. This passage will get a man laughing into the bottom of his gin glass.
***
The Boston Phoenix's assertion to the contrary, all five novels included in the Library of America's new Goodis collection, where I read Nightfall, did not appear as paperback originals. Dark Passage and Nightfall appeared first in hardcover editions issued by Julian Messner. This information is available in the notes to the LofA volume.

© Peter Rozovsky 2012

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Elisabeth said...

Readers of this blog will know that I like humor in crime writing especially when it appears at unexpected moments.

Although it's not precisely about humor... your comment nevertheless reminded me of this excerpt from a passage on the values John D. MacDonald said he admired in others' fiction: "...just when you think you have [the author] properly analyzed, and his methods identified, he will put in a little quirk, a little twist, that will be so unexpected that you read it with a sense of glee, a sense of joy, because of its aptness, even though it may be a very dire and bloody part of the book..."

June 26, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

That comment jibes very nicely with my thoughts on such matters. One might read such a passage with momentary shock, then glee that one has been let in on a secret, that by God, people really do say funny things at shocking times.

June 27, 2012  

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