Dark Passage, by David Goodis

My novel HANGMAN’s GAME is dedicated to my parents and brother, and in that dedication I thank them for their reading recommendations. One recent recommendation from my dad: an anthology of David Goodis novels from the 1940s and ’50s.

DarkPassage_Messner_1946_tnMy dad actually gave me the book last year, but I only cracked it recently, in part because I don’t like the anthology format, specifically the way it condenses distinct works into a homogenous run. Also, I don’t like to read books by the same author one after the other, because in my mind they tend to blur together. Currently I am slow-reading my way through the works of Patricia Highsmith, and also John McPhee’s five geology books, but I am limiting myself to one a year of each.

I will now also be slow-reading Goodis as well, because I read Dark Passage, the first novel in the anthology, and I loved it. The book has the misanthropic energy of the best noir novels, and a hammering, repetitive prose style that presages David Mamet.

Also, this book has to have been read by Stephen King, as the closing grafs are clearly echoed by certain lines in The Shawshank Redemption. Except King has given the lines a cheerier spin.

Which should tell you all you need to know about how dark Dark Passage is.

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