Why Should I Read?...
The Big Sleep
Raymond Chandler, 1939
Sometimes “Why Should I Read?...” is just too easy. This is one of those days. Raymond Chandler’s first novel starts with this paragraph:
It was about eleven o'clock in the morning, mid October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills. I was wearing my powder-blue suit, with dark blue shirt, tie and display handkerchief, black brogues, black wool socks with dark blue clocks on them. 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.
What more do you need? I can go home now. Surely this speaks for itself.
The first thing to note is that
Last time out we looked at James Ellroy. Ellroy is a direct descendant of
How has it influenced me?
There are few writers I admired as a teenager whom I still admire today.
Lessons for the aspiring writer
Simple words and sentences can convey information every bit as efficiently as more elevated language.
You can do new things with an old plot (in fact, if you find a genuinely new plot, let me know).
Wit is not misplaced in an action novel.
It’s possible to convey character without action, dialogue or overt commentary.
The first-person narrative does not need an unreliable narrator to be successful.