RARA-AVIS: Re: The Long Goodbye (the book, not the movie)

From: Mark Coggins ( coggins@immortalgame.com)
Date: 07 Aug 2007


Thanks for the kind words about the article.

>I wonder if you think Chandler would scrap so much of what he'd gotten
>down in the first draft (everything he didn't underline) partly
>because of the typewriter and that changes meant re-typing up the
>whole page ...

>But at the same time, I think this method probably was a great tool to
>use and it clearly helped him to produce some of the tightest, best
>prose I can think of. Do you think he'd have done anything close to
>this method today? How do you view revision? I think with today's
>technology most of us probably rewrite far less than writers in
>Chandler's day.

Those are some good questions and I'm not sure I really know the answers. My sense, and it's only that, is that regardless of technology, writers select their rewriting approaches based on what seems to work for them, rather than what the technology of the time best enables.

I think there was just something in Chandler's personality that meant writing--including revisions--involved significant (re)invention, not just
"tinkering." Besides the evidence from drafts of THE LONG GOODBYE, I know that when he "cannibalized" his short stories from BLACK MASK for his novels, he rewrote them significantly.

Contrast that with somebody like Kerouac who wrote ON THE ROAD in the early 50s (about the same time as THE LONG GOODBYE) and typed the whole thing on a scroll of paper in a single sitting (although I believe he actually drew from scenes and notes recorded earlier in notebooks).

But, like I said, what do I know?


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