Thursday, March 26, 2009

Raymond Chandler

It was 50 years ago today that Raymond Chandler died. Arguably the most influential crime writer, he left behind seven completed novels and roughly two dozen short stories. There are some who prefer Hammett or Ross Macdonald, but I’m a Chandler guy all the way.

I read all the novels in order and all the short stories and essays I could get my hands on. I was barely 50 pages into The Big Sleep when I ordered the next two Chandler novels from Amazon (all Black Lizard editions). When I decided to start writing again, it was Chandler’s style I tried to imitate. It was like watching a whale knit.

Some out there dig Hammett more because his writing is spare. They think all of Chandler’s similes are silly and his description superfluous. But they made the stories more meaty and resonant. There are many times while reading a Chandler novel that I smiled at a great line. Sure, it took me out of the story briefly and made me think about the author for a second. But, by God, I was sure enjoying what I read.

Here’s a smattering of links for you on this Chandler day:
An excellent article on the literature side of Chandler from the Telegraph
essay: Writing The Long Goodbye by Mark Coggins

A little peek at my bookshelf:

(the big fat washed out one is The Long Goodbye.)

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