Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Long form quote of the day

I sure wish I could write like this:

     "I looked at my watch and this high-powered publisher was already twenty minutes late. I would wait a half an hour and then I would leave. It never pays to let the customer make all the rules. If he can push you around, he will assume other people can too, and that is not what he hires you for. And right now I didn't need the work badly enough to let some fathead from back east use me as a horse-holder, some executive character with a paneled office on the eighty-fifth floor, with a row of pushbuttons and an intercom and a secretary in a Hattie Carnegie Career Girl's Special and a pair of those big beautiful promising eyes. This was the kind of operator who would tell you to be there at nine sharp and if you weren't sitting quietly with a pleased smile on your pan when he floated in two hours later on a double Gibson, he would have a paroxysm of outraged executive ability which would necessitate five weeks at Acapulco before he got back the hop on his high hard one.
     "The old bar waiter came drifting by and glanced softly at my weak Scotch and water. I shook my head and he bobbed his wine thatch, and right then a dream walked in. It seemed to me for an instant there was no sound in the bar, that the sharpies stopped sharping and the drunk on the stool stopped burbling away, and it was just like after the conductor taps on his music stand and raises his arms and holds them poised.
     "She was slim and quite tall in a white linen tailormade with a black and white polka-dotted scarf around her throat. Her hair was the pale gold of a fairy princess. There was a small hat on it into which the pale gold hair nestled like a bird in its nest. Her eyes were cornflower blue, a rare color, and the lashes were long and almost too pale. She reached the table across the way and was pulling off a white gauntleted glove and the old waiter had the table pulled out in a way no waiter ever will pull a table out for me. She sat down and slipped the gloves under the strap of her bag and thanked him with a smile so gentle, so exquisitely pure, that he was damn near paralyzed by it. She said something to him in a very low voice. He hurried away, bending forward. There was a guy who really had a mission in life.
     "I stared. She caught me staring. She lifted her glance half an inch and I wasn't there any more. But wherever I was I was holding my breath."

From Raymond Chandler's "The Long Goodbye." I swear the whole book is like this. I am convinced that Chandler just had some kind of innate genius or labored over each pronoun like the screws on the space shuttle. See? I can't do what he does. But I am enjoying the hell out of reading it.

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