Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Raymond Chandler's The Long Goodbye and The Big Sleep

The Long Goodbye

The first time I laid eyes on Terry Lennox he was drunk in a Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith outside the terrace of The Dancers.

Although there isn't much conflict here to write home about, we are introduced to a character and made aware of something about him - not only that he's drunk, but that he is in a Rolls-Royce and at a club.

In the next two paragraphs we get mostly physical descriptions of characters. Despite this, there is a mildly interesting scene that unfolds that makes me wonder about the sexual orientation of these characters and hence of the author.

First thing said:

“Look, mister,” he said with an edge to his voice, “would you mind a whole lot pulling your leg into the car so I can kind of shut the door?”

Verdict: Fail

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. 

Weather opening cliche deserves a fail. What follows is the narrator describing what he's wearing, right down to the detail of his socks. Then we get a description of a new client's house. Then another description of a girl. With all this description, this opening would get an epic fail except this is written by Chandler. He use of similes and language is uniquely his. Of course, although it was relatively fresh at the time of writing, it's been done to death by 2014. But no one does it like quite like Chandler.

...but she looked durable.

She came over near me and smiled with her mouth and she had little sharp predatory teeth, as white as fresh orange pits and as shiny as porcelain. They glistened between her thin too taut lips.

First things said:

“Tall, aren’t you?”

Verdict: Fail

Theodore Moracht

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