Book 46 The Big Sleep
Is this a good time to mention that I have a love for hard-boiled fiction? I went through a pretty lengthy phase where I was reading a lot of James M. Cain and Raymond Chandler, Daschell Hammett and the Big Sleep has always been my favorite story. I’m still not sure who killed Sternwood mechanic, and when he was asked when the movie was being made Chandler confessed he didn’t know either, but that’s just a testament to how well the language works in the story.
Chandler throws together descriptions that are almost non-sequitors, but they still manage to work in the context of the story. He provides a perfect scene change towards the end of the book where he says, “and it kept raining.” It had nothing to do with the story, but it still seemed like the most important observation that he could make. It’s the same kind of thing that I love about Fitzgerald’s writing, that perfect ability to sum up a character or situation.
This is not a territory you want to go into if you’re particularly offended by racism, sexism and homophobia, maybe I’m a worse person for not putting the book down, or maybe I’m a product of being a single white male. If you’re going to be offended then don’t bother reading the book, because it drops some pretty offensive lines and assumptions.
If you want to study back and fourth dialogue then this is a book you have to go with, if you want to watch the movie it will be even better. Not often you’ll hear that, but the script for the film got doctored up by William Faulkner, in particular the moment that sticks out for me is when Marlow is talking to General Sternwood about his daughter Carmen.
“I met her in the hallway, she tried to sit in my lap.” Which is as far as the book went, but the movie tacked on, “I didn’t mind so much except that I was standing up at the time.”