Sunday, July 19, 2015


At the other end of the bar they were having a good time, talking pleasantly with some energetic
laughter thrown in. He tried to hate them because they were enjoying themselves. He collected some hate, aimed it, and tossed it, then knew right away it was just a boomerang. There was no one to hate but himself.
It's hard to believe that David Goodis could get any more depressing than he's already been in his other books I've read so far, but this one takes the cake to date. Written during the last leg of his career, This book introduces us to the sad couple James and Cora Bevan, dropping us right into their marriage, as they try to mend it while on holiday in a Jamaican resort. James is an insomniac, suicidal, impotent alcoholic who drinks all day because he can't seem to get his wiife to enjoy sex with him, and Cora might have a history of abuse in her past and also still struggles with her sexual dysfunction. She seems to have some hidden desires to get roughed up by a hairy man, and James doesn't do that for her. A series of adventures in the Jamaican slum outside of the hotel might change things.

Unfortunately, although the novel still sported Goodis's fascinating and poetic prose that I've come to love and the story could've been pretty interesting, this one was a hard one to get through. I really liked the flashbacks and it has a great first chapter. But eventually, it felt like he was trying a bit to hard in his writing and characterizations, and many times, it just came out as rambling, repetitive, and on-the-nose, and the attempt to write in Jamaican patois was just awkward. And man, was the dialogue plodding! But the biggest reason why it was so difficult to read was because of the character of James. Now I understand that noir usually features so pretty unlikeable characters, but James was ridiculous! Talk about a dick! He was so annoying with all of his self-pitying and being a constant downer in every conversation he had. I just couldn't take it sometimes and just put the book down on many occasions. The best part was the James/Cora backstory and their relationship, I wish that was focused on a bit more. The story is pretty similar to Street of No Return (which was written a year before this one), where a man that's hit rock bottom, travels
through the gutter for redemption, but was done a lot better in that previous novel, and the protagonist was a lot more engaging.

Whew, this one was a downer! I think I'll read some Hap and Leonard now as a pick me up! Goodis is still one of my favorite novelists, he seemed like he bled his demons out onto the page, or at least got wine-drunk and threw up all over it, and I love continuing to make my way through his fascinating work.
What I think this calls for is a gin and tonic. Or it might be a good idea to fill a swimming pool with gin and just dive in. But gin doesn't quite fit this mood. What would you say fit this mood? The diving part of it is fine. Let's make it a high dive, say a few hundred feet up with rocks at the bottom, a collection of nice sharp rocks.

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