Joseph Nicholas “Joe” Gores was born on December 25, 1931, in Rochester, Minnesota, the son of accountant Joseph Mattias Gores and Mildred Dorothy Duncanson Gores. Raised Catholic, Gores entered Notre Dame University intending to become a cartoonist. Caught up more with storytelling than art, he began writing short stories, collecting hundreds of rejection slips before he made a sale.
On graduation in 1953, Gores worked his way west, holding a variety of part-time jobs along the way: truck driver, construction worker, logger, carnival worker, and assistant motel manager. Arriving in California, he worked as an instructor at a gymnasium in Palo Alto before landing a job that would influence the rest of his career: He became a private investigator at L. A. Walker & Company in San Francisco. He worked at the agency from 1955 to 1957 and took graduate-level classes. He also sold the first of many short stories, “Chain Gang,” to Manhunt magazine in 1957. After a stint in the U. S. Army (1958-1959)—served at the Pentagon, writing biographies of American generals—Gores returned to L. A. Walker & Company before moving to a similar job with David Kikkert & Associates. He worked at that agency from 1959 to 1962, meanwhile earning a master’s degree from Stanford University (1961). From 1963 to 1964, Gores taught at a boys’ secondary school in Kenya, then returned to San Francisco and Kikkert (1965-1967). In 1968, by which time he...
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