HARD BOILED TALES OF SOCIAL INJUSTICE vs THE NOIR MEDUSA INSIDE THE HEAD
Goodis adds a noir dimension to what are hard boiled novels about predatory injustice and corruption from City Hall on down to Philly’s most vulnerable neighborhoods. Political leaders, criminal bosses, and those who live in Southwark, the Liberties, the Tenderloin, or Port Richmond share a sense of helplessness and a quiet urge to become permanently helpless. Betrayal, repressed memories, manic depression and self-contempt are shared by urbanites of varied social classes.
This is true of both Goodis’ mythically allusive and his strictly naturalistic novels. Even in the latter, disorienting inner suffering is symbolized by images such as a dark lake, a sidewalk wet with rain and blood reflecting a pale moon, a sawdust bar with an uncannily archaic interior, an icy blizzard that sends taxis and buses into each other’s grillwork, or an indistinct row house the cellar of which is used to bury the bodies of a two members of a criminal gang, a brother and sister. The paralyzing mystery is terrific. The “noble loser” who results is a great contribution to the mystery genre.