Back Adopt this book: David Goodis: Five Noir Novels of the 1940s & 50s

July 2022

David Goodis (center) with Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart in 1947, the year they starred in an adaptation of his 1946 novel Dark Passage. (Public domain via

If you believe in LOA’s mission and would like to support our activities in a substantial way, nothing is more helpful than endowing a volume in the series to keep it permanently in print. Your gift will have prominent recognition in the book, and as a Guardian of American Letters you will make a lasting contribution to American culture.

This month’s featured candidate for adoption is David Goodis: Five Noir Novels of the 1940s & 50s. Among the pantheon of American crime writers—those masters of noir whose powerful vernacular style and dark and subversive themes transformed American culture and writing—David Goodis was a unique figure, a Philadelphia-born pulp expressionist who brought an almost hallucinatory intensity to his spare, passionate novels of mean streets and doomed protagonists. In these five novels readers will meet an innocent man railroaded for his wife’s murder (Dark Passage); an artist whose life turns nightmarish because of a cache of stolen money (Nightfall); a dockworker seeking to comprehend his sister’s brutal death (The Moon in the Gutter); a petty criminal derailed by irresistible passion (The Burglar); and a once-famous crooner scarred by violence and descending into dereliction (Street of No Return).

Robert Polito, the editor of this volume, deemed Goodis “our most crafty and elegant crime stylist,” and former Library of America Editor-in-Chief Geoffrey O’Brien has written that “his best books have a unique poetry of solitude and fear.” Little acknowledged during his lifetime, he has long enjoyed an international cult following. With this LOA collection, Goodis takes his place alongside Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett as one of the essential American crime writers.

A fully tax-deductible contribution of $75,000 to the Guardians of American Letters Fund will help to keep these masterworks of American noir fiction in print and available to future generations of readers.

Learn more about becoming a Guardian of American Letters.

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