Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Wahoo! I can add another candle to my reading challenge cake.
I managed to find a Raymond Chandler's The Long Goodbye at the library. I enjoyed this very much. It's hard to believe - since I'm such a mystery fan - but I've never read anything but a short story by this author.
Reading this novel was definitely a bit of time travel . It was like stepping into a black and white movie with great dialog. In fact the wittiness almost took over the story. I got so engrossed in how clever Chandler was with his words that I forgot - several times - that I was actually following a plot. That plot was quite thin, really, and I had it figured out long before the end.
But the characters - and the clothes. A lot of description kept me thinking 'movie set' and then I'd think Smithsonian. Of course, there's a museum-ish quality to the novel for me reading it today. But I remember clearly when all men wore suits, shirts and ties unless they were mucking out the barn. And some of the older men wore shirts and jackets then, too. Men in this world carried a functional handkerchief along with their gun. And always wore a hat.
Since the story is set in Hollywood of the '50's, the ladies had some pretty great outfits, too. All the women were beautiful and wore jewels, furs and movie-star duds. I think I could these characters as being played by several of the actresses of the day. No one was fat; no one was less than pretty.
Except the cops, of course. And the Mexican servants. I found the class divide a bit startling even though I wasn't shocked or surprised. We're not very used to reading such blatant racism, either, these days. Not that it's not present in society. It's just not part of our PC vocabulary.
Would I read another Chandler? Yes. But I have to digest this one first. The richness of the writing is cloying in a way. I admire his ability to paint such detailed scenes with words, but I know I prefer the leaner prose of today's writers. It was fun to frolic in the warmth of a California - and a way of life - that has long been gone. Even though I never lived there and most of it was as made up as the movies, there were lots of occasions when nostalgia took over.
Not a bad read for my 4th candle...