Today in fiction
On Oct. 24, Cooger & Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show arrives in Green Town, Ill.
-- "Something Wicked This Way Comes" (1962)
by Ray Bradbury
From "The Book of Fictional Days"
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Today in literary history
On this day in 1958, Raymond Chandler began his last novel, the never completed (by him) "Poodle Springs." That was Chandler's name for Palm Springs, where "every third elegant creature you see has at least one poodle" and where Philip Marlowe had chosen to settle down with his new wife, the socialite Linda Loring. Chandler envisioned this unlikely scenario as "a running fight interspersed with amorous interludes," but he lost interest in the idea after a few chapters and set it aside. At this point Chandler was in the last stages of a five-year alcoholic tailspin brought on by the death of his own wife after 30 years of marriage; in a few months Chandler too was dead, at the age of 70. The novel was completed by Robert B. Parker and published in 1989.
Marlowe shared a night with Loring in "The Long Goodbye" and should have known better: "I watched the cab out of sight. I went back up the stairs and into the bedroom and pulled the bed to pieces and remade it. There was a long dark hair on one of the pillows. There was a lump of lead at the pit of my stomach ..." But least Linda Loring wasn't Eileen Wade or any of the other blondes he describes in that book:
"There are blondes and blondes and it is almost a joke word nowadays. All blondes have their points, except perhaps the metallic ones who are blonde as a Zulu under the bleach and as to disposition as soft as a sidewalk. There is the small cute blonde who cheeps and twitters, and the big statuesque blonde who straight-arms you with an ice-blue glare. There is the blonde who gives you the up-from-under look and smells lovely and shimmers and hangs on your arm and is always very very tired when you take her home ...
"There is the soft and willing and alcoholic blonde who doesn't care what she wears as long as it is mink or where she goes as long as it is the Starlight Room and there is plenty of dry champagne. There is the small perky blonde who is a little pal and wants to pay her own way and is full of sunshine and common sense and knows judo from the ground up and can toss a truck driver over her shoulder without missing more than one sentence out of the editorial in the Saturday Review. There is the pale, pale blonde with anemia of some non-fatal but incurable type. She is very languid and very shadowy and she speaks softly out of nowhere and you can't lay a finger on her because in the first place you don't want to and in the second place she is reading 'The Waste Land' or Dante in the original, or Kafka or Kierkegaard or studying Provencal. She adores music and when the New York Philharmonic is playing Hindemith she can tell you which one of the six bass viols came in a quarter of a beat late. I hear Toscanini can also. That makes two of them ..."
-- Steve King
To find out more about "Today in Literary History," contact Steve King.