DAVID GOODIS – Of Tender Sin. Gold Medal #226, paperback original; 1st printing, 1952; Gold Medal 616, 2nd printing, 1956.


   David Goodis is one of those bleak, lost figures of pulp literature, legendary now but neglected in his day, who churned out millions of words in his youth for the pulps, and in the 50s and 60s produced some unforgettable classics in paperback.

   Of Tender Sin features some of Goodis’s best writing and lousiest plotting, starting for no apparent reason as hero Alan Darby, a middle-class office worker with a house and wife in the suburbs, suddenly becomes “unstuck from himself” and begins wandering the seedy streets of Philadelphia’s tenderloin in the middle of a harsh winter.

   It ends for the same no-reason, apparently when Goodis got tired of writing it. But along the way, we get drugs, kinky sex, beatings, incest, robbery and murder, all put across with some of the most incredibly vivid prose I’ve ever read.

   Goodis conveys Philly like Camus did Algiers in The Stranger: when he writes, you feel the cold snow seep into your boots, taste the cheap, satisfying greasy-spoon chow, feel the impact of a sudden punch, this is writing for its own sake, and to find it between the covers of a two-bit paperback is one of the delights that come only to collectors like us.