Monday, November 1, 2010

I want to grow up to be "Chandleresque"

RAYMOND CHANDLER and friend, thanks to blogtown.portlandmercury.com

There was no readily available photo of Mr. Chandler at a typewriter. I can't remember if he only wrote in longhand. At any rate, he is the star I'd pick for a poster on my wall, the subject of swoons and fantasies. His works, that his. Surely there is something to be said about being an icon.

Think of (your name here) being used as is his, "Chandleresque." It is unambiguous. You know at once it alludes to powerfully visual descriptions and clipped, smartass (or, not to be incongruous, wiseacre), hard-boiled dialogue from his world-weary, occasionally duped (but not for long) detective, Philip Marlowe.

Who would you wish to be...not having to take on their baggage but only their unique talent and output? I know he began his writing career at what they refer to as "later in life," thought not quite so excessively "later" as mine. Reality is not a condition of this reverie. I would be Chandler.

Say his name and words like pulps and noir are immediately linked. He is quoted for phrases such as, "the tomcat smell of eucalyptus," which, especially after a rain or a hefty mist, describes precisely the scent of Southern California air. It is the fragrance of hilly side roads on which his protagonist awaited blackmailers.

My current writing intentions have him hovering like a pipe-smoking guardian angel or hard-drinking, disembodied muse. Aspirations move and motivate us. Think of giving the world titles and characters which will not be forgotten, which are shorthand for the complex world he opened to us in mid-1930s America.

Not that the noir genre is ever far from my mind, but today it has moved back to the front of the line, following a Netflix choice for Saturday night. I will write about it tomorrow or the next day.

I really am interested in hearing which writer you would be and why. To keep the length of this post manageable and to ward off readers yawning, I have given only the most basic, possibly superficial reasons why Chandler is my choice. Give me a break, I already wrote my 2,000 plus NaNoWriMo words and still have a commercial assignment to finish in the next hour. And it is not yet 10 a.m. I am not smug but neither am I discontent. It is November 1 and it is a good day.

22 comments:

Erin in Morro Bay said...

And who knew he was a black cat lover? Better and better. I must admit that one of the reasons I love Chandler is that he gave "birth" to Robert B Parker - one of my top favourites.
But which would I be? Miss Read - aka - Dora Saint. An English woman who was born in the 1920's, lived through WWII, was a teacher, and then in the mid 1950's, started,writing two different series. One "Fairacre", the other "Thrush Green" - both simple tales of village life, in which you meet all manner of personalities and human condition. I believe it was Jane Austen who said that village life could inform one of the world and Miss Read proves her correct. Dora Saint is in her 90's now and no longer produces a book annually as she did for over 40 years. I think to have spent one's life living in a village in the English countryside,observing one's fellows and writing about it could prove to be quite a satisfactory life.
Erin

Marylinn Kelly said...

Erin - Thank you so much. What a full, rich picture of the chosen writer and her work and, perhaps the best part for me, I had not known of her before your comment. From the British literature of my reading, under which flag I certainly include mysteries, the stories set in villages do paint a cross-section of humanity and circumstances. As you tell of it, I can see what a satisfactory life it could be. xo

Artist and Geek said...

Interesting question. It varies, on Mondays I would have to say Thoreau. Breaking out of the norm and he gave us the modern graphite pencil. Except I would need a modern "water closet".
There are many more, but that would be too revealing. :)

May I ask? Fiction or memoir? Impatient. Want to read it.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Artist and Geek - It began as just typing, a graceless chronology of all the cars in my life (?:-)) and has now shuffled over into fiction. We may wish we had the car-o-rama back before I reach my word goal. The reading of whatever this is, even by me, is a long, long way off. Just saying.

Thoreau, not just a writer but also much more. The modern graphite pencil, huh? One of my favorite things. You are welcome to add to your list, in an incognito sort of way.

Laoch of Chicago said...

I think I would choose Dashiell Hammett or maybe John D. MacDonald. But often the speculating is better than the choosing.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Laoch - The speculating, especially as it involves JUST their writing and not their often tangled lives, is great fun. I think of Hammett and Chandler as brothers of a sort. I would say I picked Chandler because of the Los Angeles connections, the descriptive phrases and all the private eyes that have followed. They have also followed Hammett.

Any day that I begin to feel sorry for myself or think there is something missing from my life, I only need to remember the rich writing legacy that has flavored my life. Thanks for your contribution to our dialogue.

Robert the Skeptic said...

Without a doubt, Mark Twain. "Roughing It" is my favorite work in particular. I love that it is autobiographical but delivered with liberal literary license bent toward humor. That is much the way I write, or try to, anyway.

And I admire the man, quick to point out the absurd and pretentious; an avowed Atheist at a time when they were more reviled than today.

And being a "49er" and San Franciscan, I identify with the geography from where Twain drew his inspiration.

Damn, two less trips to the barber shop and I might even look a bit like him.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Robert - I really enjoyed your response and thank you for joining in. It is easy to understand all your reasons for the selection...plus I think of Twain as being such a part of the American fabric, his tales showing his contemporaries who they were (if they weren't paying attention) and giving us an original look at the path that got us here.

There seems to be a thread with all the choices mentioned here, a connection either of geography, wished-for places or territory of the mind (my brother picked H.P. Lovecraft, as long as he didn't have to have his life.)

I believe you reach your objective in your writing, always clear and intelligent with humor very much in place...letting the air out of pompous or larcenous balloons and steering us toward people who can think.

Artist and Geek said...

Thinking. Very important.
Today it would have to be Frank Herbert, for his thinking, ideas, philosophical musings.
Picking a favorite writing style is impossible nor the exercise of this post. Well written prose, poetry, depth, thought: all inspirational in their own way.
I have a tendency to seek out the classics, when I have stretches of free time.
Marylinn-I was wondering? Do you think that older books were better written? It seems that way to me, greater vocab., change in language, less electronic distraction. Just curious.

Kass said...

Anne Lamott. Makes me laugh. Makes me think.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Artist and Geek - Thank you for the reminder of Frank Herbert...I was on the lookout for a good used copy of DUNE a while back, then forgot. Note to self. This is a difficult, nearly impossible choice to make. I think Chandler was foremost on my mind, having just seen an unusual neo noir movie and discussing with my son the whole notion of what makes a work "noir." But he might still be my choice, regardless, though as I work on my NaNoWriMo project, I wouldn't mind channeling Raold Dahl.

I don't read very much contemporary fiction so I'm not really in a position to say but the whole of literature from other days is so immense and I find so much there to which I want to return or read for the first time (oh, so many things unread)...I don't think I can answer the question. But, as you may have guessed, I could talk books and authors day and night, whether I know their work or not, for learning is as much fun as knowing. Not much of an answer.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Kass - Oh, yes. Anne Lamott. She makes me laugh, too, and I am very fond of how she is so expressive about her spirituality and how the community she found in organized religion anchored her. When I first read her I felt a connection between the way she writes and the way I think. My task since then has been to get my thinking onto the page without tinkering.

Artist and Geek said...

Marylinn-Raold Dahl :)
Very much an answer, I could and have talked books all day. On bad days, it's Bill Bryson, especially "Notes from a big country". Instant cheer up. Then classics waiting to be read or at least re-read. So many books so little time. For some strange reason I've given up on Joyce, I know, a literary sin, but I just can't get into Ulysses.

If you have time :), the entire Dune series is very worthwhile, they get deeper the further you go. Pre-determinism etc., the original series not the later additions.

Marquez, Kundera................

Maggie May said...

i find that impossible to say right now..i don't feel a muse, because i am so close to giving birth, that is my muse.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Artist and Geek - Oh, the never ending titles and authors. I will note your Bryson book and I have done my homework on the original DUNE titles. I think I read the first three but it was a very long time ago. The gift of today's extra hour - which I would endorse as a regular event...perhaps weekly...though my son feels we would soon lose our way - yes, but we will have gotten enough sleep - has given me a little bit more writing time. How quickly one falls behind. Enjoy your free hour.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Maggie - Time enough to contemplate muses, once Ever has arrived. And she, indeed, may be all that is needed to bring your muse roster to full strength. My best wishes to you, to all your family.

Ms. Moon said...

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. She got Florida right.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Ms. Moon - CROSS CREEK, which is what I mostly know of her, would surely support that choice. Thanks so much for stopping by.

Pamela said...

I would be Vladimir Nabokov. You can always count on a Russian for a fancy prose style.

grrl + dog said...

wow,
you are on fire.

Not sure who I'd be as a writer...
especially now I know what sort of a nasty person enid Blyton was in the real world...

Marylinn Kelly said...

Pamela - Now I will need to do some Nabokov research. The field grows ever wider.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Denise - You mean to tell me the author of "Noddy Gets His Car" was not all one would have hoped? This is discouraging news. My son's father was born in South Africa, so we became acquainted with Noddy, Licorice Allsorts, Christmas crackers and other cultural variations.

I feel you find all the muses you might ever need, every day a new way of moving forward.