In his second novel, Herman Goodden's lively and aphoristic prose tells the story of a young man's coming of age during a period in our social history when steady, gainful employment and stable romantic relationships were construed as obstacles to the full flowering of the endlessly fascinating self. It is a loving and hilarious dissection of a profoundly neurotic time.
Zephyr Press / 1998 / Cover image: Roger Baker / Layout and design: Bill McGrath
It only took 25 years to shake off the publishing curse – weak editorial nerves and a bankrupt publisher with an unbreakable contract – that dogged ‘Not It’ from its creative inception. Out of a vast field of two, this is my favourite of my novels and it also has the distinct advantage of being in print and available. I think it is the less hackneyed of my coming-of-age novels and at times is downright acerbic. I hope that Not It’s critique of boomer excesses and conceits (richly deserved as they are) is at least mixed with warmer impressions of a magical - if somewhat hormone-addled - time. The book’s dedication is a tip of the hat (and if I said ‘a tip of the Hatlo hat’ he might be the only person who’d get it) to my good friend and slum-mate, ace cartoonist and illustrator, Roger Baker, who has graced so many of my books with his art work. We used to joke that we had a marriage of minds that was bordering on mental cruelty but if there actually was any cruelty being chucked around, it must’ve come from me. He was a supernaturally sympathetic sounding board during the original writing of Not It - Herman Goodden
“It’s a coming of age novel about a young man gauchely discovering sex, gradually acknowledging essential responsibilities, grimly fending off the rising pressures to volunteer for the army of workaday wage slaves. The protagonist bears a not-at-all surprising resemblance to the young Goodden of a quarter century ago and his story, like virtually all his creator’s stories, is set in London and Southwestern Ontario. Goodden makes no bones about being a London writer. A familiar and respected writer locally, he has never seen his work gain the same sort of currency in the larger market. ‘It goes just fine up to the Middlesex County border but it never seems to get over that wall,’ he says. ‘That’s fine,’ he insists, and in fact Goodden has made a career out of keeping up the anti-materialist persona to which his young protagonist aspires in Not It. Asserting the dignity of ideas and the precedence of art over commerce, he’s been content virtually all his life to live by his pen. ‘It’s precarious but it’s sufficient’.”
- Doug Bale, London Free Press