Monday, June 1, 2009

"Sticking out like spats at an Iowa picnic"

I have been reading a lot of Raymond Chandler recently. Rereading mostly, easy vacation reading, with the occasional pitfall of racism, homophobia, and sexism (ah, the good old days). Chandler liked to cannibalize earlier stories for his novels, and he uses this simile, one of my favorites, at least twice, “her face fell like bride’s pie crust.” Another sweet line: “I felt as cold as Finnegan’s feet, the day they buried him.” In The Big Sleep, the first novel, Marlowe asks who Proust is (answer: “a connoisseur in degenerates”), but in a later book he’s quoting Anatole Fance, so he must have had some down time to read while waiting for a client in the office. Some period flavor: a tough guy calls meatloaf “hash with a starched collar.” Meatloaf? People used to think meatloaf had airs?

There’s no way to get Bogart out of my mind while reading this stuff, but in a letter, between drinks, Chandler claimed that the one actor he would have liked to have seen as Marlowe was…. Cary Grant. At first I thought that must have been a goof, but now I like the idea. (Of course, that’s what Archie Leach said just before he cut his throat.)

1 comment:

apt pupil said...

Have you ever read Kenneth Fearing? I bet you'd love his hard-boiled poetry! We've got some on