Reading? Nothing beats Raymond Chandler

Posted: January 5, 2011 in Books
Tags: ,

For Christmas I finally got the complete writings of Raymond Chandler. Usually right from the beginning sentence or paragraph Chandler announces he means business with your attention. Take the opening of Trouble Is My Business (one of four stories in the collection of the same name):

“Anna Halsey was about two hundred and forty pounds of middle-aged putty-faced woman in a black tailor-made suit. Her eyes were shiny black buttons, her cheeks were as soft as suet and about the same color. She was sitting behind a black glass desk that looked like Napoleon’s tomb and was smoking a cigarette in a black holder that was not quite as long as a rolled umbrella. She said: ‘I need a man.’ ”

Notice how the slobbering sounding (unkempt, piggish, sloppy)  ‘putty-faced ‘ is accentuated by its immediate nicely groomed implying contrast: ‘tailor made suit’.”  Though reversed in order he makes the same contrast with ‘cheeks were as soft’ as ‘suet’–in other words, as soft as the white fat on the kidneys and loins of sheep.

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