Friday, April 17, 2009

Ever Read Raymond Chandler?

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.

Now you have. That's the opening paragraph of THE BIG SLEEP, Ray's first novel. One thing that gets lost in the translation: Published in 1939, four million dollars was a whopping number. In today's dollars, almost $400 million.

My boss, The Famous Author, read that paragraph for the first time in 1969. TFA mentioned he was working on a novel, and the old rim rats at the newspaper told him to forget it, he'd never write anything as good as this. Be a bitch if the bastards were right, but TFA keeps trying.

2 comments:

Chris said...

This book is my crime-fic Bible. I pull it off the shelf and read a passage at random when I'm feeling low, and it always does the trick. I, like TFA, will always be chasing after that one...

Ann oDyne said...

"with the sun not shining" is beautiful.
Of course nobody has come near Chandler's level since, although Robert B Parker does describe Spenser's ensembles right down to socks with clocks ... and somebody has to keep trying so that we all have something else to read between doing what Chris (above) does - reprising that smell-of-old-LA frisson to be had by opening any of Lord Chandler's stories at a random page.