May 16, 2007

there are blondes and blondes

Posted in books, movies tagged , , , at 11:55 pm by placeinthestars

ST and I went to see The Long Goodbye at the Film Forum tonight, and um, it was … interesting. I remain unable to take the 70s seriously on film. It freaks me the fuck out, man, because they were such a different time, and just…some of it is vaguely familiar and some of it is just plain weird.

Anyway. It’s Altman, with Elliot Gould as Philip Marlowe, and they changed the ending from the book, and it was just strange.

But it made me want to dig up one of my favorite pieces of writing and post it:

There are blondes and blondes and it is almost a joke word nowadays. All blondes have their points, except perhaps the metallic ones who are as blond as a Zulu under the bleach and as to disposition as soft as a sidewalk. There is the small cute blonde who cheeps and twitters, and the big statuesque blonde who straight-arms you with the ice-blue glare. There is the blonde who gives you the up-from-under look and smells lovely and shimmers and hangs on your arm and is always very very tired when you take her home. She makes that helpless gesture and has that goddamned headache and you would like to slug her except you are glad you found out about the headache before you invested too much time and money and hope in her. Because the headache will always be there, a weapon that never wears out and is as deadly as the bravo’s rapier or Lucrezia’s poison vial.

There is the soft and willing and alcoholic blonde who doesn’t care what she wears as long as it is mink or where she goes as long as it is the Starlight Roof and there is plenty of dry champagne. There is the small perky blonde who is a little pal and wants to pay her own way and is full of sunshine and common sense and knows judo from the ground up and can toss a truck driver over her shoulder without missing more than one sentence out of the editorial in the Saturday Review. There is the pale, pale blonde with anemia of some non-fatal but incurable type. She is very languid and very shadowy and she speaks softly out of nowhere and you can’t lay a finger on her because in the first place you don’t want to and in the second place she is reading The Waste Land or Dante in the original, or Kafka or Kierkegaard or studying Proven├žal. She adores music and when the New York Philharmonic is playing Hindemith she can tell you which one of the six bass viols came in a quarter of a beat too late. I hear Toscanini can also. That makes two of them.

And lastly, there is the gorgeous show piece who will outlast three kingpin racketeers and then marry a couple of millionaires at a million a head and end up with a pale rose villa at Cap Antibes, an Alfa-Romeo town car complete with pilot and co-pilot, and a stable of shopworn aristocrats, all of whom she will treat with the affectionate absent-mindedness of an elderly duke saying goodnight to his butler.

The dream across the way was none of these, not even of that kind of world. She was unclassifiable, as remote and clear as mountain water, as elusive as its color.

The Long Goodbye, Raymond Chandler, p. 89-90

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May 23, 2006

When in doubt, have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand.

Posted in books tagged , at 3:15 pm by placeinthestars

here are some of my all-time book recs, books I love and rec to everyone, often with good results:

Absalom, Absalom (and/or Light in August) by William Faulkner
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez
Dreamhouse by Alison Habens
Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco
The Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula K. LeGuin
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
The Neely trilogy by TR Pearson
LA Confidential and/or American Tabloid by James Ellroy
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
A Separate Peace by John Knowles
The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
Sandman by Neil Gaiman (Okay, not technically a novel but it hits so many of my narrative kinks that I have to include it.)
A Room with a View by E.M. Forster
Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons (a recent addition to the list)

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Also, randomly, I always forget how much I love Raymond Chandler until I start reading things he wrote.

I leave you with this bit of wisdom:

Everything a writer learns about the art or craft of fiction takes just a little away from his need or desire to write at all. In the end he knows all the tricks and has nothing to say.
~Raymond Chandler

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