August 1, 2023
Back a few years now (not a century’s worth, but a few, which over the last decade can feel nearly like a century at time – at other times, barely a second. Time? It’s a strange one), I had a Nightfall Cocktail Talk, and it was peachy! But I just took a re-read into this noir-ish book by David Goodis (nearly the noirish-est). It’s a dandy read, by the way. A twisty-ish, nearly character study in a way. I mean, there’s a murder that’s happened, and a crime (in Seattle! Of all spots. Though the action as it is takes place in NYC). And a beating. And some hidden? Lost? Spent? money around somewhere. And love, too! And maybe camaraderie. It’s interesting, in that (as mentioned in the early Nightfall Cocktail Talking), you feel there is no way it’s gonna work out happily for anyone, I felt that multiple times. but . . . well, I’m not giving it away. Read the book yourself! I will give away the below Cocktail Talk quote, however.
In this particular Village place there wasn’t much doing. Four men at the far end of the bar were having a quiet discussion concerning horses. A young man and a young woman were taking their time with long, cool drinks and smiling at each other. A short, fat man was sullenly gazing into a glass of beer.
Vanning turned back to his Gin Rickey. A peculiar sense of loneliness came upon him, and he knew it was just that and nothing more. He wanted to talk to somebody. About anything.
–David Goodis, Nightfall
June 4, 2019
Okay, I just had to have this quote as a Cocktail Talk, even though it doesn’t technically have booze in it, but it’s such a crazy drink concoction that I couldn’t resist! If you missed the Night Squad Part I post, or the Nightfall one (which started our now trio of posts from the David Goodis collection of three books put out from Stark House), then I strongly suggest you take a little time and go back and read them to catch up a bit. Okay? Now, back? Then let me introduce you to the California Clouds.
“But Rafer’s your man. Why would he tell you a thing like that?”
“He was high,” Nellie said. “He was forty thousand feet up. On that mixture he drinks. Calls it California Clouds. Mixes it himself. A bottle of some cola drink, six aspirin tablets, two tablespoons of snuff. Puts it all together in a bowl and sips it from the spoon. In no time at all he’s up there. California Clouds.”
–David Goodis, Night Squad
May 28, 2019
I’m continuing along with a little David Goodis, following our stop at Nightfall and peach cordials, all from the David Goodis Start House Noir Classics collection of three books from this prince of the bleak, breathtaking, and sometimes nearly too dark – though Night Squad doesn’t end quite in that manner, though it ain’t exactly all light and flowers, either. There’s an ex-cop gone bad and wondering about going good again, a really bad part of town run by a bad boss who really likes rowing (really!), a bar and some drunks, another bad guy trying to take over, and, well, lots of other stuff, including the below talk on booze and prices and goathead, and I don’t know what that means. Maybe you do? Maybe reading all the past David Goodis Cocktail Talks will help?
The deal is, Jim, there’s an acute shortage or funds. So let’s take whiskey, just as an instance. A legitimate bottle, a fifth, it’s four dollars and up. The contraband booze, the cooked corn and goathead, you get it for a dollar a pint. Of course sometimes it’s poison, but those times are very seldom. Maybe one batch out of five thousand, and you’ll admit that’s a tiny percentage. Chances are, when you drink the homemade juice you won’t be sick the next day. I’ve never had a hangover from the corn or the goat, and that’s more than I can say for some well-known legal brands.
–David Goodis, Night Squad
May 21, 2019
I recently scored another of the Stark House Noir Classics collections (which have been featured in various Cocktail Talks back in various days), this one a trio of books by the often dark, deep, bleak, noir and pulp (though either in some ways does him a little disservice) master David Goodis! Including Nightfall, which is a twisty-and-turn-y number, a crime novel, a who-can-you-trust book, and a “this will never end well” book that actually ends well. All following the mostly main character who’s an artist and an ex-college-football player, and who ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time. And really, the below isn’t the most Cocktail Talk-y of all Cocktail Talks, but I love the idea of a time when people just sorta naturally had peach cordials after a big meal. Don’t miss past Goodis Cocktail Talk posts, either
The food came and they ate silently. Every now and then he lifted his eyes and watched her for a moment or so. He liked the way she ate. A quiet sort of gusto. She took her time and yet she didn’t waste any time. Her table etiquette was an easy, relaxed thing that made it a pleasure to sit her with her. After the food, Vanning ordered peach cordials. They sipped the cordials and smiled at each other.
–David Goodis, Nightfall
November 20, 2018
Wow, I haven’t had a lot of David Goodis on here (I think just one Goodis post
) – which is a shame, cause I love his work. Maybe it’s just too downbeat? Maybe when they drink it feels almost, oh, the opposite of the jolly drinking I tend to applaud? Maybe it’s just bad timing? – nearly all of his characters have a lot of bad timing. But he (though not as revered here in the U.S. as he should be, or maybe not as well-known
is a better way to put it, as his devotees are devoted, and I say U.S. cause he’s bigger in France, where most of his books have been made into movies, and where the only scant biography of him has been published) is a subtle master of pacing and language, and an obvious master of writing about the down and out and the nowhere to go and the last chance has already faded into the past, the back alleys and longshores and shabby bars that become nearly family for those who inhabit their shady, scruffy, barstools to nowhere. Shoot The Piano Player
may be his best-known book, or at least one with Dark Passage
the other, as it was made into a movie by François Truffaut, and it’s a worthy read unless you’re looking for some sort-of peppy ending. Lots of it centers around a bar, Harriet’s Hut. Not the nicest place, but a popular joint, as the below description tells us.
At the bar the Friday night crowd was jammed three-and-four-deep. Most of the drinkers wore work pants and heavy-soled work shoes. Some were very old, sitting in groups at the tables, their hair white and their faces wrinkled. But their hands didn’t tremble as they lifted beer mugs and shot glasses. They could still lift a drink as well as any Hut regular, and they held their alcohol with a certain straight-seated dignity that gave them the appearance of venerable elders at a town meeting.
—Shoot the Piano Player, David Goodis
June 4, 2013
David Goodis was once called “the poet of the losers” and while I’m not 100% sure that’s 100% apt, it fits pretty well. He wrote books that take “noir” and dip it in a syrup of painful luck combined with serious sadness. Perhaps the most famous (though not the only one made into a movie by the French, who love themselves some Goodis) is Shoot the Piano Player. A fine read. But the one I’ve just finished is Black Friday (which, by the way, has nothing outside of making you question the world in common with the day after Thanksgiving), in which a guy on the run for killing his brother steals a coat, runs into some bad men, then some bad women, then cuts a guy up a feeds him into the furnace . . . and it goes downhill from there. A fine read, which at one point ends up with a lot of gin being consumed:
Charley took the bottle and began pouring the gin into a water glass. He got the glass three-quarters full. He lifted the glass to his mouth and drank the gin as though it was water. The radio was playing more bebop. It was Dizzy Gillespie again and Dizzy’s trumpet went up and up and up and way up.
–David Goodis, Black Friday