I met David Goodis Twice

By Seymour Shubin

I met Dave Goodis twice. No, actually once. The first time I simply “saw” him.

It was a short time after Dark Passage was published, and I was just about ready to leave a “single’s” party in Philly when someone said to me, “There’s Dave Goodis.” Now some people dispute when I say I saw him wearing a nice light-colored suit. Impossible, they say; he always wore dark-brown or whatever, and it certainly wouldn’t be up to style. Still, I think I’m right. But then again there’s a small possibility I was wrong. He was so surrounded by people, mostly girls, greeting him that I may have gotten it wrong. All I remember clearly is that I was envious. I had published a number of short stories, including one in the legendary STORY, but no novel.

Now skip to about 1956--I’m not sure of the year. My wife got a call from a girlfriend of hers that she was house-sitting, that her friend Dave Goodis was coming over, and would we join them. Goodis seemed in an excellent mood, though he told a sad story (with a smile). He said he had suffered a heart attack while surfing and that he was living with his mother. Cheerful. Nothing terribly wrong. Until he asked me:

“Can you help me get a hardcover publisher?”

(Indeed, as I learned later, this was the reason he’d asked to meet me.)

I was jolted, and then immediately flooded with sadness and disbelief, though I only hope none of it showed. I’d had just one novel published at that time, Anyone’s My Name, and though it had made the NY Times bestseller list I was hardly a star with any influence. And he was still this gloried writer in my mind. I told him that I would talk to my editor, and that if he didn’t hear from him he should write to him too, using my name.

Nothing to my knowledge ever came of it. And that was the last time I saw David Goodis.

Seymour Shubin is the author of many novels, short stories and articles; his latest novel is Witness to Myself. He has won an Edgar Allen Poe Special Award from the Mystery Writers of America, among other literary prizes. He lives with his wife in Pennsylvania. The above essay appeared in the GoodisCON program book..