I Get No Kick From Sham Pain

“Who reads?”  That’s what I’ve heard more than once from an “English professor” who spends a lot of time online.  Well uhuh, I say, sounding rather like Butt-head, I uh, um you know, read stuff, but he listens not to me.  And I admit that I read less than I used to.  On the other hand, I think I read 30 books last month, and I wasn’t even trying.  And most of them were “out of my field,” whatever that is.  So yes, there are those of us who still read books, though that may have to be classified information as far as the academy is concerned.

One problem with reading is that it may conflict with musical and cinematic needs as well as life itself, but still we can relate even such experience to reading.  So this is where I must acknowledge that I came into my experience with David Goodis backward or anachronistically or mediated by the media—that is to say that my acquaintance with him was based on films made from his work.  And that was a justifiable pleasure.  I always liked Delmer Daves’ Dark Passage (1947), so much so that I think rather heretically that it is the best of Bogart and Bacall’s joint appearances.  But even so, I was most impressed, even surprised, by the strength of the original work, a powerful source for the film.  The ending is much better than the sentimental conclusion of the...

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