The Moon in the Gutter by David Goodis
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This is not so much a novel as a short sequence of events that goes nowhere. It has the kind of fatalism that noir is known for: the protagonist who is doomed. In this case he is trapped by his own limited sense of identity. He apparently hasn’t heard of the “American Dream,” where hard work can take you anywhere. He grew up on the mean streets and in his mind that’s the only place he can live. So when the upper class woman shows up in her sports car and wants to take him uptown? No can do. “Don’t you see the way it is? We don’t ride the same track. I can’t live your kind of life and you can’t live mine. It ain’t anyone’s fault. It’s just the way cards are stacked.” Spoiler alert, that is on the last page. And it is actually a fitting wrap up for this annoying protagonist who spends the novel, in between fist fights and drinking binges, in situations where he needs to say something but can’t get the words out, or needs to move but can’t. He is frozen in place and unable to act. The novel begins with him staring at the blood stains where his sister was murdered. At the end of the novel he knows the answer to who her murderer is. We do too even though the murderer is never identified.
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