clues at the scene

clues at the scene

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Great Lines : Trouble is my Business

At left from Amazon, Trouble Is My Business by Raymond Chandler.

I've heard some great lines lately. I've spent a bit of time on airplanes lately and so headphones and eclectic music. Some follow - unattributed.

Thirteen men going down to the graveyard, only twelve good men comin' back.

So we meet again, my heartache.

Help get me out of this little black mess.

Some of these days, you're gonna wake up smilin'.

Fat men play with their garden hoses.

Shot down on the sidewalk or waiting on death row.

Thank you Jack Daniels Old No. 7.

In my garage with my bullshit detector; Carbon Monoxide making sure it's effective.

I wish I had a pencil thin mustache.

There you go. You'll probably recognize all of these. These are great lines when I hear them. They make me want to hear more because of where I was when I first heard the song, or who I was with when I heard it the last time. I should qualify my taste in music: I listen to Jimmy Buffet when I get on a float plane to leave civilization. Yes, I do so often.

Chandler hit it square for me here with Trouble. You should read a little Chandler to feel what it is like to literally be in another man's shoes. He puts me there better than anyone - even E.H.  Let's look at the opening paragraph: (over at Type M for Murder they were discussing openings. This is my contribution).

Anna Halsey was about two hundred and forty pounds of middle-aged putty-faced woman in a black tailor-made suit. Her eyes were shiny black shoe buttons., her cheeks were as soft as suet and about the same color. She was sitting behind a black glass desk that looked like Napoleon's tomb and she was smoking a cigarette in a black holder that was not quite as long as a rolled umbrella. She said: "I need a man."

That pretty much puts us right there in the room with Marlowe. I'v been pulling back some on my descriptions because I haven't mastered Chandler's swagger and to imitate it would mark me as someone imitating Chandler. I need my own swagger.

Right now, I'm writing with a kind of broken-legged drag-step that your mother pinched your arm about on the street and said not to stare at.

I'm off to do some damage. I've got a body to put under the water. I hope you do too.

I hope you're writing. I know you are reading widely. Give Chandler a try. You'll love the lines.

Whatever is chained inside that roll of carpet is still moving on the back of my boat. I better put it in the water for safe keeping.

6 comments:

celeste holloway said...

Love it! I'll have to jot these down for safe keeping. Maybe it's proof I don't get out enough, but I've never heard any of them. Thanks for the enlightening post, Jack! :)

j welling said...

Out and about, you ! Of course, you've been working on that fabulous novel so you are excused.

Thanks for the encouragement.

Hart Johnson said...

Those are great lines. And my neighbor with the pool always listens to Jimmy Buffet when she has a party (to which I'm usually invited) so it makes me happy.

As for Raymond Chandler--I always hear him narrating in Bogart's voice (which is good) but the man makes the most two-dimensional women.. in fact I'm not sure the man actually ever knew any women. He does some things really great, but that usually bugs me.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Fantastic description there!

I love Jimmy Buffet. :) I wouldn't mind his lifestyle, either!

j welling said...

Hart - you are on target about the women , er - broads - in Chandler. Times change. Tastes change. One cannot get away with these cardboard characters now. Of course, you cannot get away with Mr. Darcy, either.

E- the only bait in town. fins to the left. Fins to the right.

Nigel Mitchell said...

Good point about Darcy. And Chandler's writing was in a class all its own.