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Tony Grist

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Chandler [Oct. 18th, 2009|09:57 am]
Tony Grist
I read the first few chapters of Farewell, My Lovely last night. Three things.

1. Chandler reads like a parody of Chandler. The writing is so self-conscious.

2. The people, Marlowe and especially Moose Malloy, are comic book characters. I don't believe in 'em.

3. The racism took my breath away.

I'm going back to my man Hammett. Hammett had been a Pinkerton. He knew the mean streets and Chandler didn't. Chandler's relish for the posturing of coarse, ugly, violent men makes me feel a little queasy.

As for the racism, well, I know he's writing about a racist society, but does he really have to enjoy it so much?
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: frumiousb
2009-10-18 09:48 am (UTC)
Have you ever read Chandler's selected letters? I thought that they were very interesting.

I didn't have the same reaction to Farewell, My Lovely-- I actually always read the detectives in opposition to the racist/classist elements of the society around them. But that view may certainly be affected by the fact that I read his letters before I read his novels.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-10-18 09:51 am (UTC)
I've read bits of Chandler's non fiction. I know he was a smart, liberal-minded individual. I'm having trouble squaring that with the fiction.

Sometimes a writer just hits you all wrong and there's not a damn thing you can do about it.
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[User Picture]From: frumiousb
2009-10-18 09:55 am (UTC)
that certainly happens to me as well-- had it with Sebastian Berry.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-10-18 10:47 am (UTC)
It's just like the people one meets in real life. Some one feels an affinity for- and some one hates on sight.
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[User Picture]From: ingenious76
2009-10-18 10:31 am (UTC)
Thanks for this - I agree, it is quite disturbing when a writer seems to display a completely different set of characteristics in their writing than they did in real life. You have to wonder if that was really what they thought, but just weren't prepared to publicly admit it. Hmmm.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-10-18 10:53 am (UTC)
I'm inclined to think that it's the deeper, inner self that comes through in imaginative writing. You're composing an essay- and you have intellectual control of the material; you're telling a story- and you have a lot less.

It works both ways. Some writers are a lot more likeable in their writing than they are in real life. Philip Larkin was a shit, but you wouldn't know it from his poems.
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[User Picture]From: ingenious76
2009-10-18 11:22 am (UTC)
Same with Ted Hughes.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-10-18 11:53 am (UTC)
Yup.

Rudyard Kipling the man had some hardline, rightwing views, but very largely kept them out of his work. As an imaginative artist he was a lot wiser than he was in everyday life.
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[User Picture]From: ingenious76
2009-10-18 11:56 am (UTC)
Definitely. But then you get someone like Lewis Carroll, who was an opium addict and definitely let that affect his work - I will always contend the view that Alice In Wonderland is a children's book.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-10-18 12:12 pm (UTC)
I first encountered Alice as a very small child. I loved the books then- and still do. There were things I didn't "get" to begin with, but I think that was all part of the magic.

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[User Picture]From: ingenious76
2009-10-18 12:19 pm (UTC)
Camille Paglia wrote a very interesting article on Alice some years ago. It was in her Vamps and Tramps collection. If you can find it, read it - she has some very good things to say about the book.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-10-18 01:00 pm (UTC)
I may have that book- I'm not sure. I like Camille Paglia.
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[User Picture]From: ingenious76
2009-10-18 02:05 pm (UTC)
Its a shame she seems to have disappeared. I don't agree with everyone she says, but considering she came to prominence when PC was really starting to bite, she said the unsayable, and I admire her for that.

Sexual Personae was described as badly written hate literature. Having read it, I find it interesting and thought provoking. Her views are strong, but I think thats commendable.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-10-18 06:34 pm (UTC)
I adored Sexual Personae. I think she's still out there, teaching and writing articles, but she hasn't attempted anything on the scale of that first great book.
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[User Picture]From: ingenious76
2009-10-18 06:46 pm (UTC)
She was apparently planning a follow up to it that focused on popular culture, but abandoned it in the late 90s as pop culture is a) too vast and b) constantly changing. Shame.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-10-18 06:55 pm (UTC)
Yes, that is a shame.
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[User Picture]From: ingenious76
2009-10-18 07:10 pm (UTC)
I am still holding out for another compendium of articles. I especially liked her one on Hilary Clinton (entitled "Kind of A Bitch: Why I like Her".) I'd like to know her views on Sarah Palin. I have a suspicion that she's the straight talking non-PC Politician that whilst Paglia would not necessarily agree with, woulds adore for some musings.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-10-18 08:57 pm (UTC)
Whatever she thinks about Palin it's probably at an angle from the majority view.

Paglia likes to stir things up. We could with do with more like her.
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[User Picture]From: ingenious76
2009-10-18 09:02 pm (UTC)
I agree. Its interesting how Paglia has been dismissed by some as a complete nutcase, whereas Catherine MacKinnon is seen as a respected thinker. The fact MacKinnon's views on sex are dangerously repressive and sexist does not seem to matter. Both view violence as a part of sex, but whilst Paglia states that for some thats good, MacKinnon says its all bad - which could be the reason.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-10-19 09:33 am (UTC)
MacKinnon is a Puritan. Puritans want life to be simpler than it is. Paglia is an anti-Puritan- and never met an orthodoxy or received opinion she didn't want to kick downstairs. She's mistrusted because she refuses to belong to anybody's gang.
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[User Picture]From: oakmouse
2009-10-18 04:55 pm (UTC)
Isn't Chandler a caricature of the period? I read his stuff occasionally in the same spirit in which I once watched Plan Nine from Outer Space --- to enjoy the high camp and unintentional humor.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-10-18 06:36 pm (UTC)
A lot of people regard Chandler as an important, even a great writer.
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[User Picture]From: oakmouse
2009-10-18 07:27 pm (UTC)
I can see important, in that he did have a strong impact on certain types of fiction and film of his time and some people equate 'influential' with 'important'.

Great, though? That makes me curious as to the speaker's definition of 'great'.
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