RARA-AVIS: The Big Sleep

EJM Duggan (ejmd@cwcom.net)
Sat, 20 Mar 1999 10:32:38 +0000 On Fri, 19 Mar 1999, William Denton <buff@pobox.com> wrote:

> How did Chandler plot out his books?

He started, as I exepct people already know, by writing short stories.
Well, re-writing to be precise: writing and re-writing stories in order
to teach himself how to do it.

I read in the foreword to _Raymond Chandler's Phillip Marlowe_ that
Chandler worked on half-sized sheets (not A5, but about A5 size) of
yellow paper, which he'd put in the typewriter and would aim to put 'a
little meat' on each.

Because Chandler was a slow writer, it became apparent that he wouldn't
make much of a living slowly hacking out stories which might take him
several weeks. His novels are re-workings of pre-existing stories which
have been bolted together (like a 'cut and shut' job in the second-hand
car trade: take two write-offs, cut 'em in half and weld the good front
and rear together to make a 'new' car).

Chandler referred to this process as 'cannibalization'.

Some of the Penguin editions of the short story collections have
introductory essays which specify which short stories have been reworked
into which novels.


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