There are a couple of places in The Long Goodbye where Marlowe has nothing to say, and Marlowe as narrator says just that--I let it ride...I didn't say anything at all. Other places where the hardboiled wisecrack is called for but passed over--as if Marlowe (or Chandler) was tired of the sound of his voice.
The similes are also less frequent. I just started rereading the middle novels--not sure how the the progression works--but between Big Sleep and Long Goodbye you can feel a difference in the rhythm. There are more similes per page in Sleep, making for a boom-boom-boom forties give-and-take--William Powell, or Bogey.
Long Goodbye is sick, sad and world weary. Chandler working on fumes. The movie was just right--Gould/Marlowe is tired in that I can't go on I'll go on way.
The color of stepped on gum
is the color of our times.
The light of our times is
the light in the 14th St.
subway at 2 a.m. The air
of our times is the air of the
Greyhound depot, Market
& Sixth. It is prime time. A passed
out sailor sits pitched
forward like a sack of laundry
in a plastic bucket seat
his forehead resting on
the movie of the week. The Long Goodbye.
I'm trying to understand why that's so appealing. There's
something that Tom said once--we were talking about F.A
Nettelbeck, and Tom said that he writes like he just doesn't
care. I almost took it wrong, then understood--Nettelbeck
doesn't seem to care what the reader thinks--he seems
beyond career goals, proving a point, or doing the right thing...
I think the thing I hate most about contemporary writing
(when I'm hating contemporary writing) is the earnestness--
poets "care" too much. The caring disease seems to infect
all schools. The chips aren't allowed to fall, even (or especially)
in the most "avant" work.
A key word: Anymore. As in, "I just don't give a shit anymore",
or, "I can't go on anymore, I'll go on." (apologies to Beckett).
Why/how does that feeling of exhaustion--universal, open up the soul (ouch!),
somehow let the light in. And the word anymore, which has a sad
open-then-closed, three beat sound to it.
What I'm reading: Obviously Chandler, Tom Clark's blog
Beyond the Pale: tomclarkblog.blogspot.com, proofs of the
new Lethem novel.