Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Shoot the Piano Player by David Goodis (13/81)

C1956 158pages 4 stars

Another entry for my Hardboiled/Noir category. I first came across Goodis while watching the Bogart/Bacall film Dark Passage. I like the movie and I decided to research more about the writer. Chandler, Hammett, how could I have not read any of Goodis before now? My library didn't have a copy of the novel Dark Passage, so I settled on this little book. I say little because it's only 158 pages. Goodis was a pulp man after all.

I thought I knew what I was getting into with this story. A man on the run, bleeding, stumbles into some dive and has a quick word with the piano man before the thugs come in after him... if you've read one noir, you've read them all, right? Wrong. This one is different. You see, Eddie is not just some piano player, he has a past. Well, everyone in a noir story has a past, don't they? But Eddie has an illustrious past. Eddie played Carnegie Hall. Eddie cut albums and went on tour. So why is he playing an upright in a gin joint?

The telling of Eddie's story ripped my gut out. Seriously, I was in awe. But it's not all doom and gloom. The scene in the Buick with Feather and Morris (the aforementioned thugs) had me laughing so hard I had tears running down my face. Goodis definitely knew how to craft a tale. All of his characters were well-formed in my mind. Most of the women were able to stand on their own, and gave as good as they got. And one more thing I like about it - Goodis told a gritty tale without resorting to foul language. I love Charlie Huston's stories but the sheer quantity of profanity in his stuff wears on me sometimes. Yes, I will definitely be reading more of Goodis.

favorite quotes:

"You want it all for free, don't you? But the thing is, you can't get it for free. You wanna learn about a person, it costs you. And the more you learn, the more it costs. Like digging a well, the deeper you go, the more expenses you got. And sometimes it's a helluva lot more than you can afford."

"Like proving he still had it, the power, the importance the stuff and the drive, and whatever it takes to make a woman say yes. What he got from the waitress was a cold, silent no."

1 comment:

Cindy B said...

I'd never heard of Goodis! I'll have to look for him at my library.