Goodis on Goodis


Within months of his death, David Goodis assessed his writing and his career in two letters to writer and educator Bill Sherman. Sherman unsuccessfuly sought to interview David Goodis. The letters were obtained by Louis Boxer from The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University, where Sherman's papers are on deposit..


Eric Rice reads David Goodis. YouTube by Duane Swierczynski


In the letter dated August 16, 1966, Goodis, suffering from heart disease and depression, explains why he could not arrange an interview:

Illness has prevented me from answering your letter of July 15. I am going through a labyrinth of neurological difficulties which make it impossible fore me to grant your request for an interview.

However, if it will be of any help, I offer the following--I'm 49, and my first novel was published when I was 22. It was nothing and the same applies to most of the 16 others published since then. . . .

At first, I wanted to write very solemnly and handle only the important issues. But of course the most important issue of all is putting food in one's belly and in order to do, that I deviated from the track most of the time and complied with the wishes of various editors and publishers. I admit this was weakness. I should have taken a job digging ditches, and because I was too lazy to do that, I threw away a lot of valuable time, especially in Hollywood, although I must say I had a lot of fun in Hollywood.


In the letter dated November 11, 1966, Goodis reflected on his writing:

Although most of my novels have a Philadelphia setting, several others are set in such cities as New York, San Francisco, and Kingston, Jamaica. I've lived in all these cities, as well as South Jersey.

As to your other queries, nothing I did in the Hollywood studios is worth mentioning. Very few of the major characters in my novels operate on a criminal level. They live in neighborhoods of low real estate value, which is a different thing entirely.

The footsteps of David Goodis

In the early 1950's David Goodis hung out at the Joseph Fox Bookshop at 1724 Samson Street in Philadelphia. The owner said the shop opened in 1951. She said the store stocked Goodis' first novel, presumably Cassidy's Girl. After he became successful, the owner said Goodis stopped coming to the store. She said she did not know where he hung out after that. She had no specific recollection of his habits or his appearance.

Book covers from David Goodis--Poet of Losers by Dave Moore