March 21, 2017
If you missed Part I of our Cocktail Talk tour through lesser-known (though it should be known) noir classic Black Wings Has My Angel by Elliott Chaze, then I strongly suggest you go read it now. You back? Cool! Here’s our second quote from that darkish crime tome, where main character Tim Sunblade is at a well-named bar drinking an old whiskey.
I drank a Coke in the Tuscany bar on Fifteenth. It tasted like gasoline. I went out and got a newspaper and came back into the Tuscany and sat in a booth with another Coke and the paper. Waiting. Somehow it got to be three o’clock. I bought myself a double I. W. Harper and water and four o’clock came around faster and then I went outside, walking toward the three-story building on Essex, not fast, but not slow, the whisky glowing just right in me.
— Elliott Chaze, Black Wings Has My Angel
March 14, 2017
Is there anything better than discovering a very good book you’ve never heard of, by an author you’ve never heard of? Well, okay, I can think of one or two things better, but that might be it! But then, when you find out said author didn’t really write a lot more, well, then you’re sad. But happy. But sad! But happy! It’s a crazy world, and Black Wings Has My Angel, by Elliott Chaze, is a crazy good noir book, dark, full of passion and crime, and right in the Goodis vein (if you know what I mean, and if you don’t, I mean David Goodis). It’s hard sometimes to like the main hero/heroine here, but also impossible to not keep reading at a rapid pace to see what happens. There’s a heist, a murder, lots of action, lots of strange love, and lots of drinking. Which puts this book perfectly in Cocktail Talk continuum here, so much so that I’m going to have three different posts, with three different quotes, in this very month. Though Mr. Chaze is no longer with us, from whatever afterworld bar he’s at, I’ll bet he’d glad to see his book getting some love on the Spiked Punch – and you’ll be glad if you pick Black Wings Has My Angel and give it a read.
She went into the kitchen and mixed a strong drink. It was almost red with bourbon. She brought it back to the couch and sat down and there was the business of the fringes jiggling all over again. Then after a time she began talking: “Tim, don’t ever be a gentleman again. Like you were out in the yard when I turned the hose on you. It made me want to puke to see you standing there dripping and grinning at me as if I’d done you a favor. For God’s sake don’t turn into a gentleman on me.
— Elliott Chaze, Black Wings Has My Angel
February 21, 2017
I recently re-read (for the, oh, let’s say, fourth time) Graham Greene’s classic short post-WW-II Vienna thriller The Third Man. It was written specifically to be made into the (possibly) more classic movie of the same name, and is entirely worthwhile. And a quick read, too, as it both keeps you on the edge of your reading chair or couch – as you, along with the amazingly-named Rollo Martins, unravel the mystery of Harry Lime – and because as mentioned, it’s short. It also has a couple of neat bar scenes. I especially like the description below.
After he left me, Martins went straight off to drink himself silly. He chose the Oriental to do it in, the dreary smoky little night club that stands behind a sham Eastern façade. The same semi-nude photographs on the stairs, the same half-drunk Americans at the bar, the same bad wine and extraordinary gins – he might have been in any third-rate night haunt in any other shabby capital of a shabby Europe.
– Graham Greene, The Third Man
February 14, 2017
You’ll discover, as you spend hours and hours here, that there are a lot of Raymond Chandler Cocktail Talks – go read them all now, to get my views on the great writer, and to read more sweet booze-y quotes. WAIT! Don’t go read them all yet, cause the below quote is actually already in that list of posts. But it seemed so ideal for Valentine’s Day (in a, oh, vaguely sarcastic sense, but it’s all funtimes here!) that I couldn’t resist posting it again. Read it once, below, and then go read all the other swell Chandlerisms on the site.
Alcohol is like love. The first kiss is magic, the second is intimate, the third is routine. After that you take the girl’s clothes off.
— Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye
February 7, 2017
Not so long ago in the past (though, admittedly, not yesterday either), wife Nat and I were lucky enough to go with some pals out to Scratch Distillery in Edmonds, WA to take part in one of their Ginology classes, where you end up with a bottle of your very own gin – one you designed! It’s neat, and even neater was that I got to write an article about Scratch Giniology for the Seattle magazine. You should read it! And then go do the class.
January 24, 2017
The wonderful William Trevor passed away lately. One of the all-time top short story writers for sure, he also wrote a number of short-ish novels which are amazing for their pace, narrative control, writing chops of course, and way that his characters both seem remarkably normal and remarkable. Anywho, if you don’t know him, read him. The Story of Lucy Gault like many of his works takes place in Ireland, and really is one whole life, including one scene with one of the memorable Irish whiskeys.
Not listening any more, Lucy read the advertisements: for Ryan’s Towel Soap, and corner beer and whiskey and Guinness’s stout. She’s asked her papa what Guinness was when they saw it written up and he said it was the stuff Henry drank. There was a bottle of whiskey they’d left behind, only a little gone from it. Power’s it was.
–William Trevor, The Story of Lucy Gault
December 27, 2016
Just for fun recently, I re-read Charles Williams’ Man on a Leash. It might not have even been that long since I read it the first time – I know I had a Spiked Punch post about it not that long ago. Go read that so you can get some background. You back? Good. Anywho, decided to re-read it when in one of those Williams moods, and came across another quote, ideal for Cocktail Talk-ing. Check it out – bet you agree.
“No,” she said. “I’m glad you came; I wanted to talk to you. She led the way down the short vestibule into the living room. “Come on into the kitchen,” she said, “while I fix the drinks. It’s Carmelita’s day off.”
The kitchen was in front, on the opposite side of the living room, with a separate dining room in back of it. There was a door at the far end of it, probably to the garage. She opened the refrigerator for ice cubes. “Martini, vodka and tonic, Scotch?”
“Vodka and tonic would be fine,” he said.
She began assembling the drinks, the old ebullience and blatant sexiness subdued now, though the simple sheath she wore was still overpowered by the figure that nothing would ever quite restrain. Her legs were bare, as usual.
–Charles Williams, Man on a Leash
December 20, 2016
As a longtime reader (you are, right?) of this here weblog, you probably know that I have a fondness for the pulp-y writer Day Keene, who churned out an incredible amount of stories and novels in the classic pulp era. It’s not always easy to track down his books (though some story collections now available help), but there is a reprint from the swell folks at Hard Case Crime of one novel, Home is the Sailor. A typically fast-paced Keene read, it follows the travails of a sailor who wants to do right, but runs into the wrong bar and the wrong lady. It’s well worth tracking down, not only for this quote, which happens south of the border:
The Mexican license bureau was closed. I’d expected that. There was a bar on the main drag with a faded sign that proclaimed it to be the longest bar in the world. I parked Corliss at a table and bought her a rum Collins to work on. Then I brushed off my rusty Spanish and buttonholed the first cop I met on the street.
–Day Keene, Home is the Sailor