I’m not sure what to do about the above genre (and I hesitate to call it that given the hoopla surrounding ‘genres’ in the literary world). Detectice Fiction is a pretty nihilist take on everything and I guess that’s why I lean away from it despite being so damn drawn to it too.
I just finished reading Chandler’s The Long Goodbye today and immediately afterwards I went to a local bookstore to buy another Chandler book, one by James M. Cain and a mystery novella by a former.G.G., too cool to pass up. These books are splendid for the pared back nature of the writing, perfectly modernist in my opinion, and I hardly found an over-description done by Chandler.
One time, talking about romance novelist-cum-deadguy Roger Wade, Chandler says he was happy as he could be in Idle Valley that is if a writer could be happy anywhere. This is funny, to me anyways, and it kind of vindicates me in my unease of everything.
These books are, well, just about the best signifiers of the word acerbic. They provide a wisdom that must be followed: people, unless they have a reason, look out for themselves and their family, their interests above all else.
I guess that is important to learn, but not to dwell upon. Just because something has never been done doesn’t mean it won’t.
But something truly troubling about these books is the idea possessed by Marlowe that to be a good person is to not engage in the same things as everyone else. It’s this survivalism that gets him in trouble with the cops and then saves him. It’s what gets him a night with Linda Loring – but just a night.
The one person/friend in Marlowe’s life seems to be Terry Lennox, an alcoholic and former goon and who knows what else who’s difference from Marlowe is that he benefits from the same mentality the latter uses to survive.
It becomes a problem of outlook for me because I seem to have similar views to Marlowe vis a vis self-sufficence and it makes me wonder if nothing has changed about the world or if nothing has changed about the down and out type of man?
If I would claim to know anything about life it’s that we should change if nothing else. So clearly, there’s something about this perception of life which leads nowhere but isolation – people do not tend to seek that which disgusts them.
So, I love books like these for their brutal look at life from a perspective of allegiance to nothing but yourself but then again it doesn’t really lead to a happy life, this way of living. And what’s the point of not living a happy life?