A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library
Saturday Shorts Week 14
Welcome to our weekend series for 2014. Every Saturday this year one of our staff will suggest a favorite short story from the library’s collection, all of them a great choice for quick weekend reading.
The dark guy took a week to fall down. He stumbled, caught himself, waved one arm, stumbled again. His hat fell off, and then he hit the floor with his face. After he hit it he might have been poured concrete for all the fuss he made.
I always feel guilty when I recommend Chandler to someone looking for crime fiction. It’s too easy. Like being asked “What’s a good book?” and immediately pointing out the Melville shelf. “Ever heard of Moby Dick?” But while most crime readers will already know The Big Sleep and Farewell, My Lovely and so on, I don’t feel too bad when I suggest Chandler’s short stories. They tend to get overlooked for all the brilliance and readability of those novels.
“Red Wind” is my favorite. A Phillip Marlowe story with all the earmarks. Forget the plot. It involves a troubled marriage and some stolen pearls or something… It’s not important, and I’m pretty sure that was Chandler’s attitude too. It’s the quick and quippy narrative, the tough-guy talk, the unrequited love story, the surprisingly sensitive shamus, and the oodles of atmosphere that recommend it. Besides that perfect narrative voice, it’s always the atmosphere that gets me. Even sitting in a suburban Chicago library you’ll feel those hot Santa Ana winds blowing through the story.
If you haven’t delved into the Chandler short stories before, you shouldn’t hesitate. We’ve got his Collected Stories in our mystery section. If you’re entirely new to the author, well what have you been doing with your life? Start with Farewell, My Lovely and don’t stop there.
Review by Matthew