Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Aimless Reading: The C's, Part 19 (Raymond Chandler)

Chandler, Raymond
Stories and Early Novels

I am pretty sure I purchased this at the Niagara Falls Outlet Mall discount book store, but I don't see a price tag on it. I have a vague memory of having purchased one of the two volumes of Chandler's work there and then having bought the other online. It's also possible that I am confusing this scenario with my purchase of the two volumes of Dashiell Hammett's work, also published by LOA. It might also be possible that I did the same thing for both authors. O, memory.

I read both volumes of Chandler's work a few winters back. In fact, reading Chandler and Philip K. Dick marked the beginning of my becoming interested again in novels. From 1996 to around 2006, I pretty much stopped reading novels altogether, favoring poetry and philosophy and history. Seeing the Chandler volumes on the discount shelf, I decided that it might be fun to read some genre fiction, which I had done very little of in my life. The only other crime novels I had ever read were In Cold Blood and a book called .44, by Jimmy Breslin and Dick Schaap, which was a fictionalized account of the Son of Sam killings that I read in high school.

Around that same time I also bought Ubik, thinking along the same lines that I had never read any science fiction. Over the course of that winter, I read 5 or 6 Dick novels, all of Chandler's novels and all of Hammett's novels. This volume seems to collect short stories as well. I don't think I read any of those. I like novels, but beyond Borges I have yet to develop a very strong taste for short fiction. I don't thinking the absorption lasts long enough in short fiction. I want to go far out when I am reading, and preferably stay there!

From Farewell, My Lovely:

"She was a killer, I said. "But so was Malloy. And he was a long way from being a rat. Maybe the Baltimore dick wasn't so pure as the record shows. Maybe she saw a chance--not to get away--she was tired of dodging by that time--but to give a break to the only many who had ever really given her one."

Randall stared at me with his mouth open and his eyes unconvinced.

"Hell, she didn't have to shoot a cop to do that," he said.

"I'm not saying she was a saint or even a halfway nice girl. Not ever. She wouldn't kill herself until she was cornered. But what she did, and the way she did it, kept her from coming back here for a trial. Think that over. And who would that trial hurt most? Who would be the least able to bear it? And win, lose or draw, who would pay the biggest price for the show?An old man who had loved not wisely, but too well."

Randall said sharply: "That's just sentimental."

"Sure. It sounded like that when I said it. Probably all a mistake anyway. So long. Did my pink bug ever get back up here?"

He didn't know what I was talking about.

I rode down to the street floor and went out on the steps of the City Hall. It was a cool day and very clear. You could see a long way--but not as far as Velma had gone.

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