Finding David Goodis

By Louis Boxer, organizer of GoodisCON
From GoodisCON program book

Cover from Mystery File blog

A year and a half ago, I had never heard of David Goodis.

A year and half later, I have been to his house at 6305 North 11th Street, I have gone through years of his meticulously kept tax returns, and I have been to his grave site.

I have seen his movies. I have read his books. I have read essays, critical studies, and just about everything about him.

I have talked to anybody and everybody about him from all over the world.

I have met with his family. I have met with his friends. I have met with his admirers.

In the process of discovering who David Goodis was, I have learned that he was a man of great complexity.
As Philippe Garnier (whose seminal work Goodis, La Vie En Noir Et Blanc [Goodis: Life in Black And White] 1984 which remains to be translated from the French) told me when I first began this quest, “Don't delude yourself: you'll never know what made him tick. I don't. Sallis don't know. Nobody knows that much.” He was right.

What I do know is that David Goodis was a man of incredible talent, with an incredible sensitivity toward a forgotten segment of society. He was constantly haunted by a sense of failure yet was able to maintain a near impossible balancing act that teetered between his alleged eccentric behavior and his struggle to fulfill his responsibilities as a son and a brother.

Ultimately, he lived his life the way he wanted to and harmed no one in the process.

In my humble analysis, he was a gifted artist bent on telling one helluva story the only way he knew how!

I owe a great deal of thanks to so many for their willingness to revisit the past, for their kindness in answering my never ending e-mails and phone calls and for their great generosity and support in making this project possible.

Mike Gabriel (left) author of "The Sermon" with Louis Boxer.

This list of friends is in no way comprehensive and I apologize in advance for neglecting anyone.

Philippe Garnier
Leonard Cobrin
Deen Kogan
Ken Bruen
Robert Greenfield
Bernie Shapiro
Anita Feld
April Feld-Sandor
Allan Guthrie
Jamie Bischoff
Corey Field
Adrian Wootton
M. Kelly Tillery
Thomas Whitehead
Greg Gillespie
Vernoca Michaels
Brian Kellman
Jim Leonard
Aaron Finestone
Harold Silver
Robert Polito
Bill Pronzini
Larry Withers
Jack Sky
Jane Shaw
Emily D’Amico
Suzanne Simenhoff
Deanna Salzmann
Lorna Musnitsky
Herb Gross
Dennis McMillan
Sam Boxer
Adam Boxer
Jacob Salzmann
Doug Green
Duane Swierczynski
Francis Nevins
Jay M. Gertzman
Clark Howard
Charlotte Halpern
Anita Rosenau
Oscar Claveria
Jim Nisbet
George Pelecanos
Jerald Walters
Melinda A. Jacobs
David Schmid
Bill Sherman
Councilman Jack Kelly
Dom Fantozzi
Woody Haut
Stephen Feld
Bob Welsh
Jay Schwartz
Michael Gabriel
Seymour Shubin
Lorna Glassman
Gary Phillips
Gary Lovisi
Ruth Leonard
Marilyn Musnitsky
Charles Ardai