Raymond Chandler

So hard to do right; so easy to do like this:

bq. For an instant, I saw the golden ring on his drumming fingers. A five-pointed star was engraved on the ring that Dr Albert Fowler was no longer wearing when I found his body locked in the upstairs bedroom. Here was the missing piece in the puzzle.
The revelation hit me like an ice-water enema.

And now I suppose I will spend months looking for an opportunity to use this analogy in conversation. Better yet, in an interview. %(sane)”What would you say, professor, to the results of _this_ experiment? Would you not say they hit your theory like an ice-water enema?”%
Or in Parliament: %(sane)”Would my right honourable friend agree that the results of the latest polls must have hit his party like an ice-water enema?”%

The quote comes form an otherwise amusing bit of hokum called _Falling Angel_ by the American thriller writer William Hjortsberg, whose name raises an interesting question. How do Americans pronounce it? I know perfectly well how to pronounce it in Swedish, where the name means “Stag mountain” but I wouldn’t have clue how to say it in English. %(sane)Jortsburg%?

The best modern Chandler pastiche I know is still Loren D Estelman’s _Whiskey River,_ about Detroit in the prohibition. There are frozen lakes there, and assholes, but no frozen assholes.

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3 Responses to Raymond Chandler

  1. When I was a kid in northwestern Minnesota, there were plenty of folks who knew how to pronounce ‘Hjalmar’, but as I recall, we all said ‘jalmer’ (that is to say, ‘dzalmr’).

  2. hellblazer says:

    I don’t know (thankfully) about ice-water enemas, but it’s the second sentence in that excerpt you give which screams “hack fiction!” to me. More precisely, the slightly odd and (to my ears) clunky sentence structure… (and possible confusion of tense?)

    Was reading some Sherlock Holmes stories by current authors a month or two ago, and several had similar sentences. Chandler, as far as I remember, has much better rhythm.

  3. acb says:

    You’re right, of course, hellblazer, but by the time I had reached that page in the book I no longer heard the routine clunks, It was the hideous juddering of the simile that made me shout out loud.

    I wonder if rhythm can only be developed in silence.

    Jonathan — yes: J as DZ is the consonant I was thinking of.

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