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Reading Slothfully

I was told in elementary school that I only could read at half the speed for success in college. Oh well, one benefit of slow reading is you get to live with the characters a longer period of time. I read in a vain attempt to better understand people. At my other homes, I'm known as a spouse, pop, guy in the choir, physical chemist, computer/web dilettante and child-care provider. In theory, I'm a published author, if you consider stuff like Quenching Cross Sections for Electronic Energy Transfer Reactions Between Metastable Argon Atoms and Noble Gases and Small Molecules to count as publications. I've strewn dozens of such fascinating things to the winds.

Currently reading

A Christmas Carol
Charles Dickens
The Way Some People Die
Ross Macdonald
Envy of Angels
Matt Wallace
The Fellowship of the Frog
Edgar Wallace
Code of Conduct (The Jani Kilian Chronicles Book 1)
Kristine Smith
A Good Death
Christopher R. Cox
The Black Cargo
John P. Marquand
A Highland Christmas
M.C. Beaton
Tales from Moominvalley
Tove Jansson, Thomas Warburton
Moominland Midwinter
Tove Jansson, Thomas Warburton

Trouble Is My Business

Trouble Is My Business - Raymond Chandler We have four novelettes or short novellas plus an rather interesting introduction by Raymond Chandler himself, musing on the genre of hard-boiled detective fiction, which thrived in the 20s through 50s in pulp magazines. These four stories themselves had appeared previously in one of the pulps. Ah...lovely pulp fiction.

Trouble is My Business [26 June 2016] [originally from Dime Detective; August, 1939]

Philip Marlowe is hired by a less mobile P.I. to solve a rich man's problem. It seems that the rich man's son has a huge gambling debt. In addition, a hot red-head has her hooks into the young man and he is contemplating marrying her, thus giving her access to all his inheritance, once it kicks in. Needless to say, several thugs show up to try to dissuade Marlow from his work. Also, not surprisingly, sever bodies turn up. It's your basic pulp fiction entertainment, but because it was written my Raymond Chandler, is rather well written and tightly plotted. Chandler was far and away the premier master of the genre.

Finger Man [28 June 2016] [Black Mask; October, 1934]

Philip Marlowe thinks he is signed on to help a pal get home safely with some sketchy gambling winnings and a hot red head. Little does Marlowe know that he's being set up for a murder because he had fingered an accomplice of the town's great political boss. So we have thugs with guns. Bodies showing up. A heart-tugging, but not completely plausible tale from the red head. And so fort. Simply brilliant writing.

Goldfish [29 June 2016] [Black Mask; June, 1936]

An old friend of Marlowe's brings him a tale she heard from her lodger, who is also a coke head. It seems the guy, Peeler, shared a cell for a couple of years with a guy who had been sent down for robbing a train and murdering someone in the mail car. Among the missing items were a pair of perfect pearls that were worth something like $200,000. Their return would net the finder $25,000, which in those days was a lot of lettuce, or something.

Well, Marlowe goes to talk to Peeler. Only problem is that he's no longer among the living. Then, Marlowe gets a call suggesting he visit a shyster lawyer about the "problem". Next thing you know, Marlowe is up in Washington state, overlooking the ocean. He's to visit a guy who keeps prize goldfish. Apparently, the mail thief has gone to cover among the fishes, so to speak.

Needless to say, more bodies show up. Marlowe drinks and smokes to excess, but in the end lives to solve the problem and live another day. Another gripping story from the master.

Red Wind [30 June 2016] [Dime Detective; January, 1938]

The hot Santa Ana wind makes people crazy. Philip Marlowe goes to a bar for a drink, beer for a change. The only other people in the bar are a drunk, who is tossing down the rye, and the young man behind the bar, who is the owner/bar tender. A man hurries in, asks if anyone has seen a woman dressed in a very specific way. His details are very unusual, unusual that any guy would know about fabrics and such.

Nope, no one has seen the woman. The man grabs a drink; then as he rushes out again, the drunk stands up, says, "Hello Waldo"; and plugs him with two shots from a .22 right into the heart.

Next thing you know, Marlowe finds the woman, Lola, in the forth floor hall of his apartment building.

Well, one thing happens and another: more bodies pile up; cheating spouses are unearthed; unbelievable amounts of liquor are consumed; .... All the good stuff in pulp fiction. But in the hands of Raymond Chandler, one has actual literature, as opposed to mere pulp fiction.