“Shake your business up and pour it. I don’t have all day.”
This past weekend I finished a mystery that was recommended to me by someone at work whose opinion I respect. The book was okay. I mean I read the whole thing and that is saying something. It was well-written and engaging enough, but as mysteries go, it just wasn’t Raymond Chandler.
So I decided to re-read, for the umpteenth time, The Big Sleep.
And, omg, on the first page you are greeted with
I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn’t care who knew it. I was everything the well-dressed private detective ought to be. I was calling on four million dollars.
And a few pages later, Philip Marlowe says, in reply to Mrs. Regan saying she doesn’t like his manners:
“I’m not crazy about yours,” I said. “I didn’t ask to see you. You sent for me. I don’t mind your ritzing me or drinking your lunch out of a Scotch bottle. I don’t mind your showing me your legs. They’re very swell legs and it’s a pleasure to make their acquaintance. I don’t mind if you don’t like my manners. They’re pretty bad. I grieve over them during the long winter evenings. But don’t waste my time trying to cross-examine me.”
Nobody writes like Raymond Chandler. He is just the best. And as I’ve said before, Philip Marlowe is one of the great characters in fiction. Right up there with Hamlet and Holden Caulfield, if you ask me.
And R.C. was an Episcopalian. I know we would have been best friends.