Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Her Hair was a Hot Sunset: Inkling Explorations for April, 2016

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.

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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


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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.

8 comments:

  1. Those are great descriptions. Just a few sentences and you have a complete mental image. I think I read his books years and years ago but I don't remember much about them. I think I will have to try them again.

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    1. Jennifer, I have to say that Chandler is the one author whose descriptions I truly relish. So many other authors, I will skim their descriptions. Even Austen, Montgomery... I just want to know what happens next, not what the house looked like. But Chandler is totally different. Sometimes I have to stop every couple of sentences to relish everything properly.

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  2. Wow. I haven't read any of his, but you've got me super interested yet again. Each one of these is so evocative!!

    (Funny story, I actually read this post yesterday and then later ended up in a discussion in the kitchen with a couple of my siblings. Somehow the topic of "womankind, etc." came up and I just had to pull out that last line from your first quote, i.e. "She looked as if it would take a couple of weeks to get her dressed." They all appreciated it, too. ;D)

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    1. Heidi, hee! That's quite funny that you worked it right into a conversation!

      Ahhhhhhhhh, Raymond Chandler. His books are not exactly "nice," but at the same time, as I've been re-reading The High Window, I've been astonished with how much in-between-the-lines stuff there is, and how very little directly iffy content it has. Like an old movie from the same era, 1930s and '40s-ish, where you know Stuff Is Going On, but it's all off-camera and implied, or referred to but not shown.

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  3. Hahaha! These descriptions are so witty and imaginative-- I love them. :)

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    1. Natalie, aren't they delicious? So glad you enjoyed them!

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  4. I LOVE these. :-) I need to read it now!

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    1. Naomi, I'll be reviewing one of Chandler's novels soon -- just finished reading it. I adore them, but they're probably not for everyone. Never know until you try, though, huh?

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