He was born on this day in 1888. Ended up in California, in the south of it, being deeply affected by it and effecting it. We cannot understand California without him. Drinking too much, walking the rain touched dust smelling streets, into Santa Monica, or into the Santa Ana winds, walking into too many women, some showgirls....all too much. Once he discovered he could write, he did, but he had to work at it. Someone said he wrote like a slumming angel and invested the sun-blinded streets of Los Angeles of a romantic presence. Good and true. He died in 1959 of too much, with sure redemption in his words. His private detective, Philip Marlowe, was "The best man in the world and a good enough man for any world." You should read his novels, but also read his essay, The Simple Art of Murder
. And ruminate on the last paragraph, which begins: "In everything that can be called art there is a quality of redemption. It may be pure tragedy, if it is high tragedy, and it may be pity and irony, and it may be the raucous laughter of the strong man. But down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished not afraid."
I like this line: "I kissed her again. It was light pleasant work."
Chandler writes a treat.
"From 30 feet away she looked like a lot of class. From 10 feet away she looked like something made up to be seen from 30 feet away. "
"I was as hollow and empty as the spaces between stars."
"The girl gave him a look which ought to have stuck at least four inches out of his back."
"She gave me a smile I could feel in my hip pocket."
"As honest as you can expect a man to be in a world where its going out of style."
"He snorted and hit me in the solar plexus. I bent over and took hold of the room with both hands and spun it. When I had it nicely spinning I gave it a full swing and hit myself on the back of the head with the floor."
"The plants filled the place, a forest of them, with nasty meaty leaves and stalks like the newly washed fingers of dead men. "
"She lowered her lashes until they almost cuddled her cheeks and slowly raised them again, like a theatre curtain."
"I belonged in Idle Valley like a pearl onion on a banana split."
"Shake your business up and pour it. I don't have all day."
"He didn't curl his lip because it had been curled when he came in."
Delicious: perhaps only Wodehouse can compete with the sheer number of lines like those in every story, the sort of sentences that force you to sit up and take notice. His stories are all right (Hammett's were better) but the deft pleasure he took in prose makes every one worth reading.
When we were first old enough to drink, we were already fans of Chandler. When we read, "We sat in the corner bar at Victor’s and drank gimlets. 'They don’t know how to make them here,' he said. 'What they call a gimlet is just some lime or lemon juice and gin with a dash of sugar and bitters. A real gimlet is half gin and half Rose’s Lime Juice and nothing else. It beats martinis hollow.'” that was what we ordered, utterly convinced.
Thank you for the reminder.
I am ordering these books for summer reading...forget anything responsible:)