Friday, December 12, 2014

An American Master

"Few authors in any genre matched Chandler's prose,
which employed the use of metaphor and simile in a masterly way.
The poet W.H. Auden described his books as 'works of art' rather than escape literature."
--Otto Penzler, editor of The Black Lizard: Big Book of Pulps

Por ejemplo, Marlowe at this from Raymond Chandler's first novel, "The Big Sleep":

"This room was too big, the ceiling was too high, the doors were too tall, and the white carpet that went from wall to wall looked like a fresh fall of snow at Lake Arrowhead.

. . .

I sat down on the edge of a deep soft chair and looked at Mrs. Regan. She was worth a stare. She was trouble. She was stretched out on a modernistic chaise-longue with her slippers off, so I stared at her legs in the sheerest silk stockings. They seemed to be arranged to stare at. They were visible to the knee and one of them well beyond. The knees were dimpled, not bony and sharp. The calves were beautiful, the ankles long and slim and with enough melodic line for a tone poem. She was tall and rangy and strong-looking. Her head was against an ivory satin cushion. Her hair was black and wiry and parted in the middle and she had the hot black eyes of the portrait in the hall. She had a good mouth and a good chin. There was a sulky droop to her lips and the lower lip was full."

The preceding paragraph demonstrates why Auden's perception and Penzler's admiration are spot on, and why the hard-boiled private eyes were literally created by Chandler's images.

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