Sunday, January 8, 2017

Richard Godwin: Hard-Boiled Enigma

The hard-boiled enigma, Richard Godwin
He is an enigma.
A tall, wiry man who is as comfortable surrounded by the surviving members of the Sex Pistols as he is London's most gifted literati. He no doubt dominates the conversation when engaged with both respective groups, or any group or gathering for that matter. He's that smart, that gifted, that interested.

He's also prolific and versatile, having written...well I'm not sure how many novels Richard Godwin has written in his 52 years, but I'm sure it's a lot. His style and themes are as diverse as our big blue marble of a planet. There's the dystopian Paranoia and the Destiny Programme,  the horrific Mr. Glamour, the violently raw Apostle Rising, and even the sexy One Lost Summer.

His short work has appeared in more anthologies and journals than one can shake a pen at (29 according to his official bio), and he's a regular at popular underground noir and hard-boiled magazines like Pulp Metal Magazine and Crime Factory. His work might not be readily visible on the New York Times bestseller list, at least not yet, but I'm not sure that's what he's going for. Richard Godwin doesn't just write stories because he hopes to make a buck. He is instead painting a picture not necessarily of a event as it happens, but rather, as it could happen. What he's interested in is the violent, horrific and at the same time, erotic human experience. He's a writer, but he's also a philosopher, a descendant as much from John D. MacDonald as he is Albert Camus. It would be interesting to open up his head to see how his mind works, how the gears spin, what kind of instrumentation God provided him with. But then, I'm not sure I want to go there. I might be too frightened by what I see.

And of course, Godwin doesn't just limit himself to novels and short stories. He also writes poetry and plays. Having never read the former, or experienced the latter, I can't tell you precisely what to make of them, but if his fiction is any indication, my guess is that the participant will be exposed to a raw and thoroughly brave presentation, that will leave him or her sweating bullets. But then, I risk making all this sound like a love letter. 

Despite his title, Mr. Glamour, Richard is a decidedly private man. At least, that's my assessment. He bears a little more anxiety than the average writer, meaning he doesn't trust publishers, big or small, as far as he can toss them. We share this sentiment, perhaps because we've both reached middle age in an occupation better known for its casualties than successes, or maybe because we're just two stubborn coots who don't know when to come in out of the rain. Those rainy days, by sheer luck or Providence, are fewer and fewer these days, thanks to income streams that are in direct proportion to prolific output than they are anything else. But hey, we'll take it.

Richard Godwin, for all his distaste of the unsavory business aspects of being a writer, is not without joie de vivre. He travels so much, speaking about writing and about the writing life, there should be a special Godwin Noir Space devoted to him at every major international airport. And the funny thing is, I've found myself within a very reasonable proximity of him (say within twenty miles) on several occasions, and yet I've never met him in person. But that doesn't mean I feel like I don't know him. We email, talk on the phone, text, commiserate, strategize, share advice, gossip, or just plain laugh together. I haven't been properly introduced to the man, yet I know him like a brother from another mother.  Or maybe I don't.

So now we have a Richard Godwin "reader" in the works from Down & Out Books. It only makes sense for a publisher to figure out the benefits of offering noir readers the chance to sample some of the best hard-boiled prose being banged out with two fingers on both sides of the Atlantic. Back when I was a young writing student at Vermont College during the mid 1990s, any author who boasted their own "reader" was an author who had not only made it, but was revered by their peers. I certainly revere Richard Godwin. Not that I know him as much as I pretend to. Because, like I said, I've never actually met him in the flesh. I guess it's more accurate to say, I know the work, and the work is, well, killer. But as for the man, who knows. Like I said, he's an enigma.



1 comment:

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