Friday, April 25, 2008

Enough Already--And a Contest

by Marcus Sakey

Chandler, Chandler, Chandler.

We've talked about him at some length now. You've read stories of first exposure, weighed his misogyny, agreed that he was a master stylist and a pretty weak plotter. We've broken down Marlowe, talked about booze and stereotypes and the self as a symbol.

This is the part where I admit that I'm not a Chandler scholar. This was actually my first reading of his work, and while I was startled and delighted by the language and the social commentary, I'm not really in a position to instruct anyone on it.

So here's the plan. When Kevin and I taught at the library, we warmed up the students by asking them to write a Chandler-ism. A one-liner description rich in attitude and flair and noir sensibilities. (Check here if you haven't read Chandler and want to see what I'm talking about).

It turned out to be a lot of fun. Here was mine:
"The dope was pure as a nun's daydream, and the woman holding it was all daydream but no nun."
Kevin's (and I'm paraphrasing here bro, my apologies for where I mangle it) ran:
"The sign in the window advertising pedicures was written by a hand that you would never want touching your foot."
Now it's your turn. Gimme your best shot. It can be about a car, a lover, a fight, an alley, a crime, whatever. Something from a work in progress or something you make up on the spot.

The winner, chosen in an unapologetically subjective fashion--in other words, by me--wins a prize.

Two, actually: an autographed advance copy of my forthcoming novel GOOD PEOPLE, which isn't out until August, and an autographed advanced copy of my friend Julia Spencer-Fleming's upcoming book I SHALL NOT WANT, which isn't out till June. Outfitters can't win the prize, but I hope you'll participate.

So let's see what you folks got. Talk Chandler to me.

35 comments:

Gordon D said...

Here's my effort:

"He looked as if he had an extra spoonful of stupid in his coffee this morning".

Brian said...

She could have been pretty but her face was betrayed by her Karl Malden nose.

Tom said...

It was just a knife – that steel line between life and death.

Suz said...

She was every bit as alluring as a roller blading Hippo clad in a wedged silk panty.

Tammee said...

She had the kind of shiny beauty that came from dime store creams and relentless hopefulness.

Marcus Sakey said...

Nice! Keep 'em coming. I'll announce a winner next Friday.

Picks By Pat said...

I wanted to slap her, becaused she deserved it, but those days are gone now, so I kissed her instead, long and hard, and when I pulled away, she took a swing at the grin plastered on my face.

Jude Hardin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jon Clinch said...

Gosh, do I love Chandler.

I love him so much, Marcus, that I'll give you three possibilities to choose from, the last one so dead-on that it's actually not even funny.

---------

In the chair by the smoking stand sat a woman who knocked me out from clear across the room. The only sap she’d ever need was the one standing in front of her in a powder blue suit. He looked a lot like me.

---------

It was the kind of morning when your shirt sticks to your back and everything else sticks to your conscience.

----------

I had hardly made it through the door when somebody came out of the alley and persuaded me to lie down for a little while.

-- J

Maryann Mercer said...

Here's my modest offering:

Innocent or not, that dame could have driven me to hell and I would have gladly gone along for the ride.

Nancy Edwards said...

There’s something about the first chocolate bar of the day. It sits there on the grocery counter, winking slyly as you pass. You’re just acting coy, it says, pretending you can live without me, but we all know we’re destined to go through life together. Sickness and health, isn’t that the riff? You pick it up boldly, knowing this time you’ll stop at one, and since you’ll stop at one, it might as well be organic, fair-trade, high-end chocolate, the seducer’s chocolate, the silk pyjamas and Egyptian cotton sheet chocolate. The second one, that’s just a chaser, but Hershey with almonds will do just fine. It’s after the fourth that you know you’ve gone off with the guy in the beater, the one who never washes his nylon sheets or picks his jockeys off the floor.

JD Rhoades said...

She called me 'sweetheart,' but I'd heard more sincerity from a cop calling me 'sir'.

JD Rhoades said...

They say beauty is only skin deep, but the guy holding the gun was the kind of ugly that went all the way to the bone.

Jude Hardin said...

I decided to add a second line:

A jaundiced naked bulb cast a gloomy haze over a swing set with no swings and a jungle gym and a basketball goal with BITCH spraypainted on the backboard. Playland at the McDonald's in Hell.

steve z. said...

The bullet burst into his head and zig-zagged through his brain like a politician traversing New Hampshire in primary season and it blew out just below his left ear and he fell dead on the damp lawn, but he still managed to vote three times in the next election, because this wasn’t New Hampshire, it was Chicago.

Cameron Hughes said...

"I was hanging out with the cat in my office, on a day hot enough to make me wonder if the sun was plotting my slow and annoying death by heat, when the man with the gun kicked the door in, fire in his eyes. "

Cameron Hughes said...

And because this is fun, have another Marcus

"I swear to God, a leggy blonde with enough pain in her blue eyes to fill a dozen telenovela's, waltzed into my office"

Cameron Hughes said...

And one more

"I knew the city's Mayor was lying, he was awake and talking"

Jon The Crime Spree Guy said...

He stared at the blog post like a drunk stares at an empty glass, wishing there were more but knowing there isn't.

Mark Samo said...

Beyond the bench where a bum with a grimy face and sooty skin slumbered on a park bench a landscaper mowed grass in a layer of morning mist like it mattered. The bum curled his arms around a beg bucket and stenciled on it in red spray paint was a message that read “Prayer Changes Things”. I dragged hard on my cigarette, taking from it what I wanted and tossed the remainder in the bucket, igniting the dollar bills. I wanted to tell him, “So does a bulldozer buddy,” but any man that can sleep in broad daylight has a cleaner conscience than mine so I kept my mouth shut and got to work.

Cameron Hughes said...

"I knew I would like my dog the first night I met him, he was urinating furiously on the steps of a large and popular Catholic Church and I admired his bold and unorthodox statement against organized religion"

Suz said...

The soft lamplight and bourbon bathed her in a sensually steamy smaze.
She was a real stunner!
Her arms stretched out to embrace me.
I was stunned she needed to bathe!

Patricia J. Hale said...

When he saw her he was reminded of a good Italian sausage: not too sweet and bursting at the seams.

Martel said...

Even after Internal Affairs deemed it “justified,” his mother’s eyes confirmed what I knew in the moment before I pulled the trigger—killing an eight-year old boy is never morally right.

Marcus Sakey said...

These are fantastic, y'all! Keep 'em coming--I'll post a winner Friday or Saturday.

Cameron Hughes said...

"I didn't like looking into people's eyes for too long, but not because I was afraid of what I'd see in them, I was afraid of secrets about me that would be revealed"

Richard Heft said...

She reached into her freckled cleavage, carrying there a spot for every hand that had ever pawed her, fished out a flesh-dampened dollar bill and handed it to the counterman across the turkey noodle soup; he looked at it dubiously, as if it were swarming with perfumed lice.

r2 said...

She had the kind of body that made boys skip puberty.

She was wearing a low-cut sweater that begged your eyes to take a dip.

They said it was Literature but it made as much sense as Keith Richard’s mumble.

The computer screen in front of me was as blank as Paris Hilton and the pages I had written the day before just as meaningless.

Suz said...

She was my kind of woman!

Lying on the bed, she cooed that she wanted to help me with the Writer's Block while she expertly sighted me along the barrel of her gun.

A crimsom cabaret boa scantily clung to her body.

She said my wife, the writer, had generously greased her palm.....to "knock the block off."

steve z. said...

Like most McMansions, the house was about as attractive as a lanced boil, and it proved that in 21st Century America, more really is less.

Cameron Hughes said...

"Here's the thing about following someone in a beach town, you need a tan or they're going spot you like an angry rash"

Marcus Sakey said...

I gotta say, I'm knocked out. These are beyond impressive. I've been staring at them for half an hour, trying to pick a winner, and it's not been an easy task. I was able to whittle it down to two, but past there, I couldn't do it.

Luckily, it's my contest, so I can break the rules.

Thus, I'm proud to announce the two winners:

Tammee: "She had the kind of shiny beauty that came from dime store creams and relentless hopefulness."

And Jon Clinch: "In the chair by the smoking stand sat a woman who knocked me out from clear across the room. The only sap she’d ever need was the one standing in front of her in a powder blue suit. He looked a lot like me."

(Jon's novel FINN, by the way, is an absolute knock-out--be sure to give it a try.)

If you guys will email your addresses to msakey at rcn dot com, Julia and I will get our copies out ASAP.

Meanwhile, thank you all for participating. Choosing really was brutal.

K Smith said...

for the contest:

The car was longer than my last stay inside, with windows darker than the warden’s heart, so I never quite believed the smile on the face of the blonde getting out of the back; the gun in her hand carried an altogether different message.

- Kevin Smith (no, not that Kevin Smith)

Jude Hardin said...

Congrats Tammee and Jon!

Jon Clinch said...

Hey, thanks, Marcus.

I didn't think you'd count mine, but I sure will enjoy that ARC...