anywhere from 5 pages of manuscript to 100.
Anyway, somebody hired Robert Parker to finish the book up.
When I first heard of this I rushed and got it right away. Got it in hard cover. I mean this is literature. Raymond Chandler. When you live in pop culture land as much as I do literature that you can actually enjoy, that isn’t some arduous task that will some how make you into a mythic better person, you have to jump on it. Buying it in hard cover made it mean something, made it permanent and real.
I was pretty excited and really sort of sad that it more than a little bit sucked.
Robert Parker isn’t anywhere near the writer Chandler was. Chandler was about the scene, the characters, and the poetry. Parker is about the plot, about the mystery and the crime.
Because of Chandler I’ve read a lot of mystery stuff. Don’t care for most of it.
Part of the problem is that its hard to figure which is Chandler and what is Parker imitating Chandler. Like there’s a scene where Marlowe helps out a gambling cheat who’s also a bigamist. He helps him avoid getting arrested for murder because he saw the guy with his first wife and thought they looked sweet together. That’s not totally inconsistent with Marlowe, but it’s a bit too sentimental to be taken seriously. You wonder how much did Chandler intend to keep and how much was just taking a look at it.
At this stage of his life Chandler did all of his writing into a tape recorder then had it all transcribed. He would then ruthlessly edit the typewritten pages.
Its easy to imagine the meticulousness that he approached his editing. When he submitted his first short story he went through and typed it by himself. Because the cheap pulp magazines used justified margins Chandler went through and typed his manuscript with the same justified margins! This wasn’t mousing over a button and clicking it, he counted letters and spaces and figured it all out.
So even though he typed things out there’s no guarantee that he would have left it in the final story. We all know that Marlowe could get sappy, but he never acted sappy and he never saw killers as friends no matter how much he liked them before they became killers, no matter how sympathetic he might be.
In the book Marlowe is married to the multi-millionairess Linda Loring nee’ Potter from “The Long Goodbye”. Parker has them constantly squabbling about how Marlowe has to be his own man. Chandler never squabbled. You get the impression that Parker had so many great squabble lines that he decided he needed to use them all. Instead of condensing them all down to a bare element he scatters them throughout the story so they become tedious instead of whip smart. After the first squabble you know this marriage is doomed. Chandler would have let us see that love is always present but the people are just too wrong for each other. All the bickering just makes us dislike both of the people and feel relieved when they’re apart.
I even wonder about the title. “Poodle Springs” as a nom de plume for Palm Springs is a little weird. Chandler didn’t like dogs so perhaps he’d have kept it to show his contempt for the desert resort. But the same way he let Faun Lake stand in for Big Bear I don’t think he’d have let his roman de clef predominate the story. It was the location, the air of the scene not the feelings for the place that overwhelmed.
Back in the life where I cared about such things I wrote an adaptation of Chandler’s last original unproduced screenplay. I wrote it so I could make the movie with my friends, shoot it on 8mm stock with sound than transfer it to video for a sale to VHS. It was a good plan and I managed to strip the story down to free to use locations (borrowing from all my friends, their homes and their clubs, restaurants and offices). We even shot a few scenes before the contact I had at the video distributorship told me the cost the Chandler Estate agents wanted for my adaptation. The WGA said that my script contained about 35% of Chandler’s so I had to play ball. Forced me to abandon that little dream.
In rewriting his screenplay and bringing it into contemporary LA, a stripped down LA, I was inadvertently following Chandler’s big advice for how to learn to write. He always preached that you had to read something you liked then sit down and rewrite it in your own words. Not copy it but try to recreate the impact of the scene or the characters.
The by product of this is that I learned more about how Chandler constructed his scenes, what appealed to me and also how different Chandler’s and my view of the world actually is.
In understanding it I grew to appreciate the differences as much as the similarities. I was able to see more clearly his concepts of the world and of LA. It served me well in understanding people, and having compassion for those who are different and those who I think are just wrong.
I guess “Poodle Springs” as flawed and poor as it is still serves some purpose in that it forces me to remember the the LA that Chandler created so that I can recall more vividly the LA I lived in.
It rained all weekend. My friend had to work all weekend. Not the best of times. Done now.
My friend meets her new boss today, on the telephone. Conference call thing. Seems odd to me but at least they didn’t ask her to make the 2 hour drive to meet him.
My arms have become ridiculous. I’m bored with the agony. Tomorrow, if I get my bike running today, I get my Doctorate in self Injectology. I’m holding out the wispy hope that insulin might go some way to relieving this grief. So bad that muscles around the pain have turned into walnuts. If I was of the paranoid bent I’d decided the knots are masticized tumors.
The foster dog is amazing. He has to live in his crate with the stupid cone head collar on but he remains joyous. Sometimes a little bit more than required. I’ve only ever had one foster dog who arrived calm. Charles. an old cocker> He was very much about his business and even more so about his pace. Otherwise every foster has arrived full of life, a complete ignorance of most things human, and an inbred compulsion to play with everything.
I think that’s right.