Thursday, June 21, 2007

In praise of Chandler

One of the things about reading Raymond Chandler is that there is a nagging voice at the back of your head that keeps telling you that what you are reading is not as valuable as Dostoyevsky for example.

The truth is that because of the way you are fed literature from school onwards there is this inbuilt snobbery about the pecking order of certain authors. As a result Chandler gets pigeon holed as a pulp fiction writer and nothing more.

But having now read a bit of his work the come back has to be that it is unfair to dismiss him because there are certain things he does that are really worth mentioning.

Firstly, he has this fantastic ability to nail characters with Philip Marlowe being the most obvious example of that. Okay you could say that he is pretty two dimensional but that ignores the fact that he is capable of showing fear, tenderness and anger as well as projecting a professional image that is cool and hard.

Secondly, the dialogue adds to that image and makes the books so enjoyable to read. In Bond type fashion there are lots of one liners that bring an instant smile to your face and remind you why reading can be enjoyable.

Thirdly, the plot is so well delivered. It grows like roots from a tree going off in various directions before coming back to an end point that you usually have not seen coming until almost the last minute.

Overall the moral of being a reader sitting down and enjoying Chandler is that if a book is good enough enjoy it and don’t assume that there is nothing of value in something that can be described as pulp fiction.

No comments: