Tuesday, October 4, 2011
In the shadows
David Goodis has a reputation as one of the bleakest of Noir and it is quite evident in "The Wounded and the Slain", an expertly crafted psychological foray into the fractured psyche of an emotionally and sexually scarred man who may be beyond redemption. There is also a fascinating attempt to dig deep into the hidden lust and pent up desires of a repressed 1950's era wife who has to put up with her husband's deep descent into a drunken paranoia and despair.
With workman-like prose, Goodis does a fantastic job of creating a detailed atmosphere, both physically (the potrayal of a 1950's Jamaican resort and the seedy side of town on the outskirts is vividly portrayed) and psychologically (we get to inside the minds of these characters, especially Bevan and Cora). To many this will be a very slow book. There is suspense, although not plot or action driven. I found myself fascinated by this pessimistic, emotional journey into the dark side of noir.
Be warned of a few things:
This is a novel that takes bleakness to a new level. There is no such thing as a truly sympathetic character. This book is dated to be sure. But that is the point. To get a feel for the time and place (especially the harsh impenetrable lines between race and class) and to get a taste of the pessimistic noir literature that was popular at the time.
A great entry into the Hard Case series, with yet another cool retro cover by Glen Orbit