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Goodis’s best novels are set in Philadelphia, where he was born and where he lived out the last third of his relatively short life., a flawless work of noir fiction, is set around the rougher parts of Philly—the waterfront area and its dive bars, tenement complexes, etc.But things are coming apart for Darby, both in his outer life and inside his mind. He actually spends more time thinking about two complicated and haunting relationships with women from his past—one being his sister—than he does his wife.Yet, his spouse’s seeming infidelity sets him on a murderous path of revenge anyway.Cassidy’s got a couple problems, though, the biggest of which is his wife, Mildred. Cassidy is one of Goodis’s typical she-devils, with her wicked tongue, vicious temper, and voluptuous body that she knows how to use to ensnare and torment men.Mildred is hardly a devoted wife to Cassidy, yet when he resolves to walk out on her and try to make a go of it with a more pure-natured (although hopelessly alcoholic) neighborhood woman, Mildred sharpens her talons.Each of those titles is perfectly readable, with interesting plots and some memorable characters.And two of his first five published novels were made into notable films noir. His debut, (1947) are crime stories with plenty of tension and the kind of rawness noir fiction fans like to see, yet both lack the distinctiveness that would come via the author’s later books.
Although David Goodis (1917-67) led a fascinating life (fascinating to some of us, anyway), I’m not going to spend a lot of time here discussing his personal story.
Instead, I’ll focus on his writing and some of the movies that were made from his novels.
But a few notes on the man behind the books: The Philadelphia native was a master of noir fiction who lived what he wrote.
Another way in which Goodis’s fiction mirrors his life is in the characters and scenery of his best novels.
His finest books are set around the hardened streets of Philly.
Lead character Jim Cassidy is a former airline pilot who lost that job through no fault of his own.