There was a sad fellow over on a bar stool talking to the bartender, who was polishing a glass and listening with that plastic smile people wear when they are trying not to scream. (The Long Goodbye)And, of course, the best and perhaps most often quoted line Chandler ever got down on paper:
It was a nice face, a face you get to like. Pretty, but not so pretty that you would have to wear brass knuckles every time you took it out. (Farewell, My Lovely)
“The first divorce is the only tough one. After that it’s merely a problem of mathematics.” (The Long Goodbye)
“Los Angeles was just a big dry sunny place with ugly homes and no style, but goodhearted and peaceful. It had the climate they just yap about now. People used to sleep out on porches. Little groups who thought they were intellectual used to call it the Athens of America. It wasn’t that either, but it wasn’t a neon-lighted slum either.” (The Little Sister)
I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance, I needed a vacation, I needed a home in the country. What I had was a coat, a hat and a gun. (Farewell, My Lovely)
The minutes went by on tiptoe, with their fingers to their lips. (The Lady in the Lake)
It was a blonde. A blonde to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained glass window. (Farewell, My Lovely)It’s sentences like these that make this author’s books worth reading over and over again. Does anybody else have a favorite Chandlerism they’d like to share?
AND THERE’S MORE: In celebration of Chandler’s 120th, the Los Angeles Times’ Jacket Copy blog asked a number of people--among them Judith Freeman (author of The Long Embrace), Bobby McCue, manager of L.A.’s Mystery Bookstore, novelist Denise Hamilton, and blogger Sarah Weinman--to send their greetings to the late master. You can read all those here. At the Villa Rose’s Xavier Lechard has a few additional present suggestions here. And Peter Rozovsky checks world opinion toward Chandler at Detectives Beyond Borders.