This month, the topic for Heidi Peterson's Inkling Explorations literary link-up is "A description of a lady in literature." Partly because I'm re-reading one of his novels now, and mostly because his descriptions are what I love best about him, I am today going to share with you not one, not two, but five descriptions of women written by my favorite author, Raymond Chandler.
Chandler can take any image and find some fresh, unusual, and often sarcastic or cynical way to describe it. Because I'm short on time right now, I'm pulling these quotes from a dandy little book, Philip Marlowe's Guide to Life, edited by Martin Asher. It's a collection of some of the snappiest bits from all of Chandler's books, which all starred hard-boiled detective Philip Marlowe. Here are some of my favorites, which give you a good taste of his style.
She was wearing a white wool skirt, a burgundy silk blouse and a black velvet over-jacket with short sleeves. Her hair was a hot sunset. She wore a golden topaz bracelet and topaz earrings and a topaz dinner ring in the shape of a shield. Her fingernails matched her blouse exactly. She looked as if it would take a couple of weeks to get her dressed. --The Little Sister
It was a blonde. A blonde to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained glass window. --Farewell, My Lovely
It was a nice face, a face you get to like. Pretty, but not so pretty that you would have to wear brass knuckles every time you took it out. --Farewell, My Lovely
To say she had a face that would have stopped a clock would have been to insult her. It would have stopped a runaway horse. --The Little Sister
The little blonde at the PBX cocked a shell-like ear and smiled a small fluffy smile. She looked playful and eager, but not quite sure of herself, like a new kitten in a house where they don't care much about kittens. --The Lady in the Lake
If you've never read one of Chandler's books, but you love mysteries with a good swagger to them, please do yourself a favor and try one. And if you haven't checked out the Inkling Explorations series yet, do that as well! It's a fun way to share books and movies you love.