I like (as maybe detailed before on this blog) Mr. Raymond Chandler, though some noir revisionists aren’t as high on him as, say, Dashiell Hamnett. I say pooey on them—why not read both authors, as well as the many others writing in the pulpy pulp era (at least the other good ones, of which there are many). I’ll admit there are one or two Raymond Chandlers that don’t rise as high as, say, The High Window, but I’ve gotten at least a kick and usually more from every book of his, which is why I was jazz’d recently to find, in Italy of all places, a copy of a Chandler book called Pearls Are A Nuisance, which collects three short stories of his that I hadn’t read (at the time this paperback was published, the book was only available in this British version). In honor of the find, and of Mr. Chandler’s usually hard-drinking leading men, I’m going to have three Cocktail Talks with quotes from the book, one day for each story in the book. These first two are from the title story, with one being the beginning of a drinking bout (around the narrator getting his, um, tail kicked), and the next a charming description of the after-effects.
A wet towel began to slap at my face. I opened my eyes.
‘Listen, kid. You got two strikes and no balls on you. Maybe you ought to try a lighter bat.’
‘Brandy,’ I croaked.
‘You’ll take rye.’ He pressed a glass against my lips and I drank thirstily. Then I climbed to my feet again.
At five o’clock that afternoon I awoke from slumber and found that I was lying on my bed in my apartment in the Chateau Moraine, on Franklin Avenue near Ivar Street, in Hollywood. I turned my head, which ached, and saw that Henry Eichelberger was lying beside me in his undershirt and trousers. I perceived that I was also as lightly attired. On the table near by there stood an almost full bottle of Old Plantation rye whisky, the full quart size, and on the floor lay an entirely empty bottle of the same excellent brand. A cigarette had burned a hole in the brocaded arm of one of my easy chairs.
—Pearls Are A Nuisance, Raymond Chandler