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Too Late for an Early Gimlet Wednesday

What I've Finished Reading

"I'm a writer," Wade said. "I'm supposed to understand what makes people tick. I don't understand one damn thing about anybody."


I loved The Long Goodbye so much that it's probably going to take me another nine years to work out all the reasons why. The short version: musical prose, endless mystery, a narrator who is funny and sad and knowing and no wiser than anyone. Philip Marlowe is a detective who never seems to get paid, who is always walking into the snarl of other people's lives and getting beat up for his trouble, who couldn't tell you why he does what he does except what else is there? It's what he is. He's a city that never sleeps, but he's also just a guy.

The plot is convoluted and sometimes hard to follow, but the narration is so good that it never feels like a flaw. You ride into the hills and back into the smog with Marlowe and listen to him wonder. It's like four hours of music where all of the songs echo and undo one another and the lyrics almost make sense. I wish I could quote the whole thing.

I wanted to love The Heat of the Day because it's beautifully written and intelligently written, but all its threads of gold and smoke never quite came together into something I could hold on to. I think I have to assume that this is my attention span being temporarily mangled by work and not any fault of Bowen's, and in order to do it justice I'll have to either read it again now or read it again later.

What I'm Reading Now

I keep trying to read The Dispossessed (by Ursula LeGuin) at night, but giving up and reading Hogfather instead. The latter is not for any reason except that it's the "easiest" book within reach of my bed. The Dispossessed is very good but I've been too tired for unflinching philosophical thingydeals with a bunch of inescapable implications about something or other. Every time I sit down to read it I get through about four sentences, think, "This would be fascinating if I were awake," and put the bookmark back in.

Hogfather is also good but is made up largely of relaxing single-sentence paragraphs and has a character called The Death of Rats who is like the Grim Reaper, but a rat.

I should be less distracted next week, but I think I said the same thing last week and it didn't exactly come to pass.

What I Plan to Read

The Body for 99 Novels, more C. P. Snow ditto, whatever's next on my bookshelf (possibly some non-fiction?) I shouldn't break my stride by reading more Raymond Chandler, but I probably will. What do you recommend, Raymond Chandler fans?

Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
littlerhymes
Apr. 20th, 2016 09:27 am (UTC)
The Long Goodbye is so good. That's probably my favourite along with The Big Sleep, but I think you can't really go wrong with any of the Marlowe novels.

(also hi, I started following you recently because I like reading book reviews)
evelyn_b
Apr. 20th, 2016 01:50 pm (UTC)
So good! I'll probably read The Big Sleep next. I have seen and remember liking the movie, but couldn't tell you a thing about what happened, so the book will be almost all new to me.

Hi, and welcome!
osprey_archer
Apr. 20th, 2016 12:48 pm (UTC)
The Long Goodbye sounds so good. I became surprisingly attached to Marlowe within just the space of The Big Sleep: he's so world-weary and sad and he drinks too much and he just keeps on trucking, trying to do the right thing by his clients or maybe the right thing in general - he's not sure which, and it makes him tired, but he keeps going.
evelyn_b
Apr. 20th, 2016 01:59 pm (UTC)
So tired! So unsure! So stubbornly keeping on anyway, even though no one else he meets understands why it's worth it to him and he couldn't exactly tell you himself.

If detectives had never been invented, maybe Marlowe could somehow have escaped being one, and maybe then he could get some sleep and a steady paycheck, doing. . . what? But no, that doesn't make any sense; this is the only world there is and some things just are.
liadtbunny
Apr. 20th, 2016 01:28 pm (UTC)
Read all the Marlowe books in order. I don't think Chandler is as good when he's writing in the third person.
evelyn_b
Apr. 20th, 2016 03:25 pm (UTC)
That wouldn't surprise me! His first-person writing is really good, so I'd expect third-person to be a little bit of a comedown (and be pleasantly surprised if it were just as good or better).

Dashiell Hammett's first-person was a lot better than his third (but not as good as Chandler's 1p -- or just different, I should probably say instead).

Edited at 2016-04-20 03:26 pm (UTC)
wordsofastory
Apr. 20th, 2016 07:36 pm (UTC)
Oh, I love Hogfather! It's one of the best Discworld books, in my opinion.
evelyn_b
Apr. 20th, 2016 07:49 pm (UTC)
Until this morning, it was the only Discworld book I had ever read, but it won't be the last. DEATH is such a charmer.

Today I'm reading Mort, in which a hapless farm boy becomes Death's apprentice. I'm enjoying it so far!
silverflight8
May. 1st, 2016 03:38 am (UTC)
I totally know what you mean by "would be great if I had more brain left over today".
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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