Friday, April 22, 2011


Raymond Chandler, of course, wrote the Philip Marlowe stories, so the quotes attributed to Marlowe, originated with Chandler. But this little book of quotes was edited by Martin Asher and published in 2005 by Alfred A. Knopf. It was given to me by my friend Janine, a fellow booky. (Booky = book lover extraordinaire.)

Quotes really do help us to segregate a writer's thoughts. They can give you a good, concise look at what a particular author is all about. Even if, as in this instance, the quotes are theoretically, derived from a fictional character. Lots of good stuff here from one of the primary originators of American detective fiction. (Read more about Raymond Chandler here, at this link.

On Philip Marlowe:

".....I'm a licensed private investigator and have been for quite a while. I'm a lone wolf, unmarried, getting middle-aged, and not rich. I've been in jail more than once and I don't do divorce business. I like liquor and women and chess and a few other things. The cops don't like me too well, but I know a couple I get along with. I'm a native son, born in Santa Rosa, both parents dead, no brothers or sisters, and when I get knocked off in a dark alley sometime, if it happens, as it could to anyone in my business, and to plenty of people in any business or no business at all these days, nobody will feel that the bottom has dropped out of his or her life." From: THE LONG GOODBYE

On Love:

"Love is such a dull word," she mused. "It amazes me that the English language so rich in the poetry of love can accept such a feeble word for it. It has no life, no resonance. It suggests to me little girls in ruffled summer dresses, with little pink smiles and little shy voices, and probably the most unbecoming underwear." From: THE LITTLE SISTER

On luxury cars:

It moved away from the curb and around the corner with as much noise as a bill makes in a wallet. From: TROUBLE IS MY BUSINESS

On time:

The minutes went by on tiptoe, with their fingers to their lips. From: THE LADY IN THE LAKE.

On Women's Clothing:

She nodded and got up slowly from behind the desk. She swished before me in a tight dress that fitted her like a mermaid's skin and showed that she had a good figure if you like them four sizes bigger below the waist. From: FAREWELL, MY LOVELY

On Hemingway:

"Who is this Hemingway person at all?""A guy that keeps saying the same thing over and over until you being to believe that it must be good." From: FAREWELL, MY LOVELY

On Home:

I unlocked the door of my apartment and went in and sniffed the smell of it, just standing there, against the door for a little while before I put the light on. A homely smell, a smell of dust and tobacco smoke, the smell of a world where men live, and keep on living. From: FAREWELL, MY LOVELY

On Cops:

In our town the mobs don't kill a cop. They leave that to the juveniles. And a live cop who has been put through the meat grinder is a much better advertisement. He gets well eventually and goes back to work. But from that time on something is missing - the last inch of steel that makes all the difference. He's a walking lesson that it is a mistake to push the racket boys too hard - especially if you are on the vice squad and eating at the best places and driving a Cadillac. From: THE LONG GOODBYE

On Dames:

To say she had a face that would have stopped a clock would have been to insult her. It would have stopped a runaway horse. From: THE LITTLE SISTER

Then she lowered her lashes until they almost cuddled her cheeks and slowly raised them again, like a theater curtain. I was to get to know that trick. That was supposed to make me roll over on my back with all four paws in the air. From: THE BIG SLEEP

On Death:

Dead men are heavier than broken hearts. From: THE BIG SLEEP

A dead man is the best fall guy in the world. He never talks back. From: THE LONG GOODBYE

On Faces:

It was a face that had nothing to fear. Everything had been done to it that anybody could think of. From: FAREWELL, MY LOVELY

On Nothing:

After that nothing happened for three days. Nobody slugged me or shot at me or called me up on the phone and warned me to keep my nose clean. Nobody hired me to find the wandering daughter, the erring wife, the lost pearl necklace or the missing will. I just sat there and looked at the wall. From: THE LONG GOODBYE

"Men have been shot for practically nothing." From THE BIG SLEEP

On Loneliness:

Room 322 was at the back of the building near the door to the fire escape. The corridor which led to it had a smell of old carpet and furniture oil and the drab anonymity of a thousand shabby lives. From: THE LITTLE SISTER

My favorite Chandler quote: Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor. From: THE SIMPLE ART OF MURDER. These words describe all the detectives in all the mysteries I read and love.


  1. Great quotes!

    Although I haven't read Raymond Chandler's books -- though have seen some movie versions -- this is convincing me, as well as posts at other websites, that I have missed out on an excellent writer.

    So, this must be remedied. Many readers recommend The Big Sleep, so I will look for that.

  2. Kathy: You're going to be so busy reading, you won't have time for anything else. Ha! My favorite Chandler books are: THE LADY IN THE LAKE, THE HIGH WINDOW and either FAREWELL MY LOVELY or THE LONG GOODBYE (can't remember which - old lady memory). Have fun.

  3. I wish all I had to do was read mysteries; too bad life intervenes and makes requests of us, and that our bodies require sleep, our lives requires errands and our landlords, grocery store owners, doctors, Con Ed, phone companies require bill payments.

    I couldn't get to the library so am reading a Thomas Pitt/Anne Perry book and trying to get into it, not my speed, but I'm trying.

  4. Kathy I've read all the Thomas and Charlotte Pitt books by Anne Perry and enjoyed them all. I'm sorry you're not liking yours. Wait, I haven't read the very latest one. I'm waiting for my library to get it in. I also love Perry's William Monk series. I do enjoy historical mysteries if they are very well written and researched.

  5. I'm trying to read "Half-Moon Street," and I did read "A Sudden, Fearful Death," with William Monk and Hester, which was excellent. Throw in a bit with social issues and I'm hooked.

    I have to find some meaning in a book, particularly historical.

  6. Kathy: I'm not remembering too much about HALF MOON STREET. I think that's one of the later ones. I prefer the earlier books, it's true. :)

    I don't mind issues, especially in historicals, as long as it doesn't slow up the story.

  7. I saw Whoopi Goldberg on CNN the other day. She was asked what she'd like to do with the next 20 years of her life (she's in her mid-fifties).

    She replied, that she'd like to sit on her porch with her cigarettes (ignore that), potato chips and water, with a few thousand good books and her cat. Sounds like a plan to me -- except for the cigarettes, and I'd substitute pretzels and chocolate for the potato chips and iced tea for the water, or iced coffee. Otherwise, perfect.

  8. Actually, Half Moon Street, which features Thomas Pitt, does deal with several social issues, including women's equality in marriage, the right for women to divorce, censorship of the arts, respecting different religious beliefs, and even gay rights.

    And the story is interesting enough.

  9. Wonderful quotes, Yvette. My favorite Chandlers are still "The Big Sleep," partly for its dazzling and confusing assortment of plots, and "Lady in the Lake." The quotes are delightful; I'm going to have to look that book up.

  10. Les: It's a little fun book. Should be easy to find. Yeah, LADY IN THE LAKE - terrific. THE BIG SLEEP just confused the heck out of me. HA!

  11. I agree with you and Whoopee - except for the cigarettes. And of course, I'd add Rocky. :)
    Although I think I prefer taco chips. Ha!


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