RARA-AVIS: "Pretentious" metaphors

From: Rene Ribic ( rribic@optusnet.com.au)
Date: 17 Jan 2003

----- Original Message ----- From: "Ed Lynskey" < e_lynskey@yahoo.com> To: < rara-avis@icomm.ca> Sent: Saturday, January 18, 2003 10:59 AM Subject: RARA-AVIS: EPITAPH FOR A TRAMP

> miker:
> Interesting post.
> I just finished reading Ross Macdonald's A MOVING
> TARGET (1949) and thought about the metaphors/similes
> you write about here. RM's prose here is liberally
> sprinkled with them. Most are restrained enough so
> it was more the volume of them that jarred the
> narrative's smoothness.
> For instance, at one place he writes about the "acne
> of rust" on an automobile. That's short and vivid.
> Still, reading RM is always a real treat.
> Ed Lynskey

It's interesting that you should pick that exact phrase - it's one of the quotes that Raymond Chandler used as an example of Macdonald's
"pretentious" literary style in a brief and curmudgeonly dismissal of his disciple's style. Chandler also quotes Macdonald's use of the word
"graffiti" (or was it "graffito"? same diff -presumably graffito is singular. Not sure if I have correct spelling here) in the same context, i.e. Macdonald's "pretentious" style. It leads me to wonder whether
"graffiti" was really such a rare word in the 1950's (?) or if grouchy old Ray was completely out of touch with the modern world (of that time). And miker: if you want to see some one really go to town on Chandlerian metaphors, you want to read Phillip Kerr's BERLIN NOIR trilogy, in particular the first volume, MARCH VIOLETS. An excellent trilogy but, to paraphrase Goering (or was it Goebbels? I always confuse the 2 when it comes to quotes - similarity of names, not to mention the fact that both were, allegedly, testicularly challenged) ever time I saw a metaphor I wanted to reach for my Luger. It's not that they were bad (although some were incomprehensible - a little too specifically Teutonic for my understanding)but that there were too goddamned !#$%^&* many of them! Also, I read them both a long time ago but from memory I would think you would also like ILL WIND if you liked VIOLENT SATURDAY. It was also reprinted in the 80's by Black Lizard.


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