Today marks the 122nd anniversary of the birth of Raymond Chandler. Before Chandler in turn gave birth to Philip Marlowe, fans of detective fiction had the likes of Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, and Miss Marple in novel form - all veddy clean, veddy tidy, veddy English murders and solutions. Oh, sure, there was also Sam Spade and the Contintental Op, but for the most part, the seedier side of private investigating was confined to the pulps with their wonderfully lurid covers. Out of that fertile ground sprung Chandler and nowadays what is there left to say about the man and his work?
So I won't try to say it. I'd rather - and he'd be in agreement - let his work speak for itself. Here are some of my favorite lines from Chandler's books and also from his own lips.
A really good detective never gets married. (Do you hear that, Elvis Cole?)I could go on and on quoting Chandler but I hinted at a contest in the title of this post, didn't I? Here it is: Post your own favorite Chandler quote in a comment. (One entry per commenter. Multiple entries will not be counted, although you're free to comment or quote as much as you like.) Come Monday morning (the 26th), I will select one response at random. That person will receive a $25 gift certificate from an independent mystery bookstore. Best of luck to yez!
Good critical writing is measured by the perception and evaluation of the subject; bad critical writing by the necessity of maintaining the professional standing of the critic.
The flood of print has turned reading into a process of gulping rather than savoring.
But down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. (The Simple Art of Murder)
I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance, I needed a vacation, I needed a home in the country. What I had was a coat, a hat and a gun. I put them on and went out of the room. (Farewell, My Lovely)
All men who read escape from something else into what lies behind the printed page; the quality of the dream may be argued, but its release has become a functional necessity.
Such a lot of guns around town and so few brains. (The Big Sleep)