Wit and sentimentality are two of Chandler's salient characteristics, the former especially barbed and the latter especially central in The Long Goodbye. Here's a bit of the wit, as extravagant as any simile Chandler ever came up with, but more bitter than most (and especially pertinent today with the popularity of Mad Men):
"... seventy-two moves to a draw, a prize specimen of the irresistible force meeting the immovable object, a battle without armor, a war without blood, and as elaborate a waste of human intelligence as you could find anywhere outside an advertising agency."That Philip Marlowe turns his sarcasm on his own favorite pursuit, chess, is typical of the self-laceration that pervades the book — or seems to. It's hard to read The Long Goodbye and not associate its occasional bursts of melancholy introspection with Chandler's own life. Whether the association is warranted, I'm not sure, but the novel feels highly personal in places, movingly so at times.
And this, when Marlowe, after suddenly and violently turning the tables on a thug who richly deserves it, defends him thus:
"`Soft,' Ohls said. `Soft as mush.'
"`He's not soft,' I said. `He's hurt. Any man can be hurt.'"
© Peter Rozovsky 2010