I first heard of David Goodis probably ten years ago. I’d never read anything by him but I heard he was a noir writer, generally lumped in with folks like Jim Thompson. Most people who knew of him seemed to like him. I finally found a book by him at a bookstore, The Wounded and the Slain, and picked it up. This last week I finally read it.
Unfortunately, I was pretty disappointed. I probably won’t be reading any more Goodis unless something falls into my lap. The book was billed as a Noir/crime novel but I'd classify it largely as a romance. It’s certainly not even in the same species as Thompson’s work, which I like quite a lot. There is one criminal act shown in the book, and the plot does turn in part on it. However, the story is really about a marriage on the rocks. A man is drinking himself into oblivion because his wife is frigid. He loves his wife and she loves him, but something that happened in her childhood makes her unable to enjoy sex. That is all resolved in the end, but in a very simplistic fashion that bears no relationship to the actual psychology of such cases.
The main problem, for me, though, is that the book is almost all introspection. There’s almost no action outside of one bar fight. We see the man drinking in this bar or that bar. We see the woman alternately wondering about where her husband is and appreciating the manliness of another man. This is all done through internal monologue. The worst part of it is that the internal monologues didn’t seem very realistic to me. At least in this book, Goodis didn’t seem to have much of a feel for the way real people think and act.
I see from reviews on Goodreads that quite a few people enjoyed the book, and it was well enough written for what it was. It certainly wasn’t my cup of tea but who knows if it might be yours.