“There is more ‘redemption’ in Goodis’s novels than might otherwise appear,” wrote William Sherman, who also said, “He does not rule out chance and meaningful coincidence, the unconscious, the fact of our human divinity . . .” Since the desire to see some kind of community and mutuality emerge from exploitation, brutality, and indifference is as deep as faith itself, and just as illusive, Goodis’ attraction to readers may be based on one of their deepest wishes.
In his last novel, however, all that is left is perseverance for which there will be no rescue. Calvin Jander pursues the dancer who, like Celia in Street of no Return, mesmerizes men with her beauty, esp. b/c she, and it (not quite the same thing), are unattainable.
Frozen desire, and Calvin's service to a mother and sister who are no longer loved ones, are all that remain. That, and, perhaps, yearning for an earlier time near Route 40 in the south Jersey swampland, across the Delaware Bay from Dover, Delaware: a time of testing at the point of death, winning battles against menacing and desperate men, and having a few moments of passion with a evasive Delaware Bay princess with secrets so horrific that he could never take her back to Philadelphia.
"Purple Pain": mysterious, impossible, spiritual, and forever. Like the stone, the Amethyst.
One last thing: can you imagine Goodis’ distress as he wrote SDF? Living alone in a big house in which all that remained of his parents was their furniture; having to arrange for Herb’s institutionalization, the care for whom his parents had assigned to him so many years ago; all hope of being with Selma gone. In this situation, he wrote a novel about a future bereft of hope and love. And he had the perseverance—a kind of courage--to do it! Instead of repeating previous patterns of compulsive conduct in his life and novels, he imagined powerfully what they had led to. And he did that all alone, with a kind of assertiveness that pushed back against the pain to move past that point of no return.