RARA-AVIS: Re: Ross Macdonald

From: robhenryson ( msharp@binghamton.edu)
Date: 02 Dec 2004

--- In rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com, "Bill Crider" <bcrider@h...> wrote:
> Last paragraph of THE DOOMSTERS:
> "For once in my life I had nothing and wanted nothing. Then the thought of
> Sue fell through me like a feather in a vacuum. My mind picked it up and
> ran with it and took flight. I wondered where she was, what she was doing,
> whether she'd aged much as she lay in ambush in time, or changed the color
> of her bright head."
> Bill Crider

Thank you, Bill. And now allow me to open The Long Goodbye at random and plunk my finger down (as per my earlier challenge):

"You're a very forgiving man, Mr. Edelweiss."

"Well, I ain't a Christian," he said. "And I'm not knocking Christians, you understand. But with me it's real. I don't just say it. I do it. Oh, I almost forgot the most important."

He got out a picture postcard and pushed it across the desk after the money...

**** OK, so this is a bit apples and oranges. I'll say what I like about both passages. First, the RM: well, I don't like it at all through that feather part, but I like the last line a lot, mainly the notion of "ambush" (who is she going to ambush? him? it's such a compellingly hostile metaphor for a woman he seems to long for in some way) and the "color of her bright head" (not "hair," as you might expect), which is a terribly cryptic and poetic way to remember a woman. The Chandler I love 'cause Edelweiss is a sap and Marlowe knows it but does not show contempt for him. I like how Chandler gives Edelweiss the meaningful line about Christian hypocrisy (which in RM would surely come out of preachy Archer's mouth). Marlowe is fairly curt and Edelweiss fills the scene (in a very memorable way for a character who makes only this one appearance in the entire novel and has Zero to do with the plot). Btw, one of the things I admire most about TLG is how it dallies in scenes that don't advance the plot (e.g. the two *wrong* Dr. V's, and the set of ordinary clients Marlowe sees -- of which Edelweiss is one). These scenes are entertaining in their own right and go a long way to deepening the characterization of Marlowe.

What do you like about the Doomsters paragraph? (or the TLG one?)


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