My wife and I went to Hawaii for a long week back between drafts of The Bubble Gum Thief. I lugged a heavy collection of Raymond Chandler books around the islands; as a result, Chandler’s writing will always sound like crashing ocean waves to me.
Above, you’ll find the first page of The Long Goodbye. Look at the first sentence … two lines of text and not a single comma. It just flows. Look at the second sentence of the second paragraph. It’s a mile too long, but it doesn’t matter because it’s perfectly natural. The problem with a run-on sentence isn’t its length; it’s that the reader has to stumble through it. There’s no stumbling here.
Consider: ”[H]e looked like any other nice guy in a dinner jacket who had been spending too much money in a joint that exists for that purpose and for no other.” If that doesn’t sing to you, maybe it’s because we take this for granted now; Rubber Soul doesn’t sound ground-breaking to the kids today either.
I love everything about Chandler’s voice. It’s not mine, but it gave me the courage to find the one that is.
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