Thursday, October 25, 2012

Hyphenated man …

… Raymond Chandler, gritty enchanter | TLS. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Like P. G. Wodehouse (with whom he almost overlapped at Dulwich), Chandler is famous for his similes, such as “We looked at each other with the clear innocent eyes of a couple of used car salesmen”, or “as debonair as a French count in a college play”. Though Marlowe is characterized by his wisecracks and verbal sparring, he can also be more subtle in his humour: “I could see, even on that short acquaintance, that thinking was always going to be a bother to her”. Not least, Chandler is a master of the capsule description, many of his subsidiary characters recalling those bleak figures in Edward Hopper paintings: “The clerk on duty was an eggheaded man with no interest in me or anything else. He wore parts of a white linen suit and he yawned as he handed me the desk pen and looked off into the distance as if remembering his childhood”. As Chandler once wrote in a letter, “It doesn’t matter a damn what a novel is about. The only fiction of any moment in any age is that which does magic with words”.

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