Wednesday, December 26, 2007
My Favorite Stories--THE BIG SLEEP
"It was about eleven o'clock in the morning, mid October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills. I was wearing my powder-blue suit, with dark blue shirt, tie and display handkerchief, black brogues, black wool socks with dark blue clocks on them. I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn't care who knew it. I was everything the well-dressed private detective ought to be. I was calling on four million dollars."
The above opening of THE BIG SLEEP hooked me on Philip Marlowe and his creator, Raymond Chandler, forever. Not everybody can agree, of course, but this one paragraph made me love the character and want to follow him into that millionaire's house and anywhere else Chandler wanted to take him.
THE BIG SLEEP's story is complicated, not pure and simple like James M. Cain, but Chandler knows how to keep the tension high and the wisecracks flowing. And the bad guy, Canino, is pretty darn scary for a 1939 novel.
If you want to write private eye stuff, you have to read this book.