Wednesday, February 28, 2007

You Could Kill Him in the Rain ... or
On a Speeding Train

While researching a January Magazine piece about Dr. Seuss to commemorate the date of that late author-illustrator’s birth (on March 2, 1904) and help celebrate the 50th birthday of The Cat in the Hat (but don’t he look swell for being half a century old?), I came across a fun little bit of information. And it was one that had to be shared with you immediately.

It seems that Dr. Seuss (aka Theodor Seuss Geisel) and seminal mystery author Raymond Chandler were friends and drinking buddies when both authors lived in La Jolla, California.

One can’t help but wonder what they talked about or, really, what they drank. (Scotch for Chandler. Ooblek for Seuss?) Did they share stories about agents? Editors? Sequels? Or how about their respective concerns around plot and deadlines and story pacing? Did Chandler sometimes say stuff like, “You know, Doc, I really love that elephant character, Horton. But you had him sitting on a whateveritwas for that whole damned book. Readers are fickle, they get bored. You gotta shake things up. See, it’s like this: next time out, let Horton pack some heat. That oughta spice things up. You need the danger; the uncertainty. And see if you can’t weave a rhyme around ‘gams.’”

On the flipside, of course, there’s the possibility that Seuss offered up some tips for Chandler: telling him how he could brighten up his stark prose with the addition of a few carefully chosen rhymes. (“You could knock him over the head, and kill him in his bed.”)

But the idea of these two brilliant, talented and posthumously celebrated authors hanging around together is just delightful, somehow. And while I don’t see the mark of one of them on the work of the other, it’s fun to think of ways in which their relationship might have affected the books they created, and which we continue to enjoy today.


Anonymous said...

This is funny. Thanks.

Kevin Burton Smith said...

Neither tarnished nor afraid
In the light or in the shade

Roger L. Simon actually wrote a short story featuring the two (plus Marlowe) as an added bonus for a reprint edition of A CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION, the star-studded tribute to Chandler a few years back. The story was available at the time on iBook's web site.

It is a head-spinner, eh?