‘Goodbye, Pops’ by Joe Gores


Goodbye, Pops by Joe Gores, 1969

The magic trick:

Making a bad character act good

Today’s protagonist is a classic example of a character who is a bad guy but acts like a good guy. He’s an escaped convict who inspires hate and anger from his family. Oh, but he broke out of prison to visit his father’s deathbed. He has wonderful memories about childhood with hid dad. He’s the killer with the heart of gold.


Yeah, pretty much. But don’t knock it. The cliché works. And that’s quite a trick on Gores’s part.

The selection:

Goodbye, Pops. Goodbye to deer-shining out of season in the hardwood belt across the creek. Goodbye to jump-shooting mallards down in the river bottoms. Goodbye to woodsmoke and mellow bourbon by firelight and all the things that made a part of you mine. The part they could never get at.

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