Monday, June 10, 2013

No Question About It, That’s a Punchy Name

Look at what I just found on the Amazon U.S. Web site: a sales page for The Black-Eyed Blonde, Irish author John Banville’s long-promised novel featuring Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe. According to that page, Banville’s book--which will appear under his Benjamin Black pseudonym--is due out from publisher Henry Holt on March 4, 2014. It was originally slated for release sometime later this year.

As Tom Williams, author of last year’s Chandler biography, A Mysterious Something in the Light, notes in his blog, there’s a history to the name of this new Marlowe outing:
The title was one of several potential pulp titles listed in Chandler’s notebooks. It has been used before, as the title of an authorised short story by Benjamin M. Schutz in Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe: A Centennial Celebration, and, perhaps more interestingly, by Erle Stanley Gardner as the title for one of his Perry Mason stories. Since Gardner and Chandler were great friends it is possible that the Chandler suggested the title to Gardner. There is no mention of it in the correspondence I have read, but Ray and [his wife] Cissy were occasional visitors to the Gardner ranch and perhaps, over a coffee or a whisky, the title was mentioned. We will never know, of course. Gardner’s book is long out of print so it seems, for now at least, Chandler will be associated with the title once again.
Hmm. I own a paperback copy of Gardner’s The Case of the Black-Eyed Blonde (1944). Maybe I ought to read that before tackling Banville/Black’s forthcoming tale.


Anonymous said...

John Banville is not British, he's Irish.

J. Kingston Pierce said...

Whoops. My error. Now corrected.