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Crooner with a million dollar voice and a standing invitation from any woman who heard hi. Skid Row Meets HelltownDavid Goodis' 1954 Street of No Return is the final work in a collection of five novels in a recent Library of America volume David Goodis Five Noir Novels of the 1940s and 50s Goodis 1917 1967 was living in his parents' home in Philadelphia when he wrote Street of No Return which was published as an inexpensive pulp paperback In his younger years Goodis had written for Hollywood and his novels have the movies in view In 1968 Samuel Fuller directed a movie version of Street of No Return starring Keith Carradine and Valentina Vargas Edited by Robert Polito the LOA volume preempts the 1987 edition of Goodis' novel I am reviewing here which included Polito's valuable and still accessible introductionStreet of No Return is a poetical novel of lonely failed people and outcasts set in a cold late November in Philadelphia the late 1940s or early 1950s The story takes place in two adjacent slum neighborhoods along the river Skid Row the home to derelicts and alcoholics with no place to go and no prospects and Helltown The latter community three blocks from Skid Row is in a condition of racial ferment as new residents from Puerto Rico and the earlier residents come to violence and rioting against one anotherThe book tells the story of Eugene Lindell 33 a seven year resident of Skid Row who goes by the name of Whitey due to his prematurely white hair Lindell has two companions Phillips and Bones As the novel begins the three men are outdoors on a frigid day and thirsting for alcohol When Lindell chances to see a man from his past on the street he follows him to Helltown beginning the connection of the two communities in Goodis' tale With the ongoing Helltown riots Lindell stops in an effort to assist a policeman who has been clubbed to death The policeman dies in his arms and two arriving patrolmen arrest Lindell for his murderAs the book develops the reader learns a great deal about Lindell He had been a popular singer with a promising future before he fell for a dancer and former prostitute Celia the common law wife of Sharkey a small time gangster with large ambitions Sharkey's two thugs Bertha and Chop beat Lindell to a pulp almost destroying his voice while totally destroying his ambitionThe book turns on character and atmosphere Goodis makes the reader feel the poverty and hopelessness of lonely streets and people in Skid Row and Helltown In a short novel Goodis develops place through character Besides Lindell and his two Skid Row companions Goodis introduces many other failed isolated individuals who are formulaic in part but sharply and individually etched in the mind The characters include a police captain and his two lieutenants Sharkey and his minions a Puerto Rican gang leader Gerardo and his cowed frightened assistants and an aged African American man Jones Jarvey who understands Lindell and recounts his own story Jarvey beginsEvery man has an ax to grind Whether he knows it or not I've been on this earth a long time I'm eighty six That makes me too old to grind the ax But the Lord knows I did it when I was younger Did it with all the strength in my body And don't think I wasn't scared when I did it So scared I wanted to turn and run and hide in the woods Much safer that way Much healthier But there's some things important to a man than his healthThe plot of the book is contrived It turns on coincidence a lengthy scene of eavesdropping and an implausible twist to the story of racial tension and rioting in Helltown The Street of No Return remains a strong brutal and sad novel with its rawness depictions of place and character and lyricismI have enjoyed getting to know the novels of David Goodis through the Library of America volume Writing in a formulaic medium he captured a world of sadness and isolation in books of a strange beauty and insightRobin Friedman
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Street of No ReturnM use it Until he had the bad luck to fall for Celia And then nothing would ever be the sa. This was my first experience with a David Goodis book and thinking about the story and the style over the last couple of days it's better than three stars Goodis does a great job of establishing most of the characters none were predictable or stereotypical And after a so so start he does a good job of taking the reader on a wild if not uite believable ride over the course of one night in the late forties in what were then the rougher parts of PhiladelphiaPrecinct 37 I think Our hero Whitey doesn't fit what I was expecting for a hero I use the word hero but in all honesty Whitey is the most reluctant hero I've come across since Holden Caulfield He meets and falls for the femme fatale Celia early on Then he loses her in what has to be one of the most half hearted attempts in literature to steal the girl The word lazy comes to mind but it was less than that It was like he didn't care; about anything or anyone Without giving it away it plays like this After Celia's boyfriend finds out that Whitey and Celia are than friends he meets Whitey one night even eats dinner with him all pretty civil and calm considering This guy is connected with the syndicate mafia or was and wants back in again or whatever Anyways the mob boyfriend straight up tells Whitey; leave Celia alone or he will mess him up And he can make that happen there's no doubt So what does Whitey do Whitey dreams up this terrible plan to flee with Celia just pack what they can carry meet at the train station at pre arranged time and place and catch a train somewhere south the very next night Well the boyfriend is still suspicious he'd just met with him He's keeping close tabs on Celia The half assed plan fails miserably and Whitey is taken for a ride to the country by several people severely beaten and left for dead He barely survives and is a shell of the man he once was; messed up bad and permanent So over the next several years he takes to drink spends all his money burns all his friends Classic slide to skid row life by the drop He's homeless and pitiful and likely mentally ill Thing is I was rooting for the guy hoping he would do something to 'save' himself or at least to try It was frustrating the first third of the book watching this apathetic hero keep giving up every chance he got Then one night seven or eight years later he gets in a tight situation; he's wanted for killing a Cop He's innocent of course but it's not looking good for old Whitey He ends up on the run from the Police and others Along the way he meets up with a wide variety of characters all in the same night Goodis' talent is undeniable throughout the last half of the book Take these couple lines describing how Whitey who is sober feels about himself He has been beaten he's hungry scared and cold and is trying to move north through the poorer neighborhoods keeping out of sight using backyards and alleys He happens to look at a house with the lights on over a backyard fence And who is standing in the kitchen window but Celia Our hero is dumbstruck and begins telling himself how there is no way he can reach out or try to talk to her now; his situation is hopeless and he's likely a dead man So now you're getting to see You're in that same bracket buddy You're one of them less than nothings who like the taste of being hurt That makes you lower than the mice and the roaches At least they try to save their skins they got a normal outlook But you you're just a clown that ain't funny And that's a sad picture that's the saddest picture of allOn that cheerful uote I'll wrap it up I'll recommend it Goodis was uniue I found plenty of things to like in this book but I'm betting he had success in others
David Goodis Ý 7 summary
Street of No Return characters ð eBook, PDF or Kindle ePUB Î In Street of No Return we meet the pathetic figure of Whitey Once upon a time Whitey was a crooner with a million dollar voice and a standing invitation from any woman who heard him use it Until he had the bad luck to fall for Celia And then nothing would ever beIn Street of No Return we meet the pathetic figure of Whitey Once upon a time Whitey was a. 'Street Of No Return' is one of my favourite Goodis novels It's multi layered has an interesting central character and a deep interlocking plot Goodis views race riots alcoholism murder police corruption and a deep seeded longing for a better place all through a tainted glass beer bottle Whitey a bum amongst bums is mistaken for a murderer after trying to aide a felled police officer in a dark alleyway His trip to the station house brings insight into the world around him Danger and breathing go hand in hand The world is not a nice place and the boys in blue have a hidden agendaI was surprised at how complex Goodis made 'Street Of No Return' Not only did he maintain an interesting plot set in the present but also enveloped the reader in the past a time when Whitey wasn't a street dweller and his clothes not insect infested Even interesting to read is how that past and a women named Celia impact on the race riots happening around him in the present tense 'Street Of No Return' is a fast paced crime novel set primary at night to hold true to the noir theme The protagonist is a helpless drunk the good guys are bad the bad guys are bad and the riots are only the tip of a much larger and deadlier iceberg The speed at which the story is delivered is not without its filler content with some passages coming across as dialogue heavey and perhaps unwarrented The only thing that really holds 'Street Of No Return' back is the typical Goodis internal dialogue by which the character has a tendency to over think a situation and analyse every possible move and outcome Some of this introspection detracted from the story at hand which is a shame as the plot itself was excellent That aside I really enjoyed 'Street Of No Return' and have no hesitation is saying that this will be a future re read 4 starsThis review of 'Street Of No Return' is from the Library of America single bound hardcover collection 'David Goodis Five Noir Novels of the 1940's and 1950's'