“There is something about the literary life that repels me, all this desperate building of castles on cobwebs…” Raymond Chandler

“By the way, would you convey my compliments to the purist who reads your proofs and tell him or her that I write in a sort of broken-down patois which is something like the way a Swiss-waiter talks, and that when I split an infinitive, God damn it, I split it so it will remain split, and when I interrupt the velvety smoothness of my more or less literate syntax with a few sudden words of barroom vernacular, this is done with the eyes wide open and the mind relaxed and attentive. The method may not be perfect, but it is all I have.”

These are the words of the ever crabby, completely fabulous Raymond Chandler (thank you dear readers for introducing his books to me) in a letter to one of his editors at The Atlantic magazine.

Talking with William Kuhn last week had got me going on all things literary, so this time we’re turning our attention to authors who have lived in this sunshine noir place called Los Angeles. It’s loved and loathed by writers, and you all know what my particular take is…as in, “there’s no place like home.”

Stay tuned for some wit and wisdom from the likes of Lillian Hellman, Aldous Huxley, Anita Loos, Truman Capote, Dorothy Parker, F. Scott Fitzgerald, etc. And of course I reserve the right to mix it up with the thoughts of some luminaries of Old Hollywood, like I do…

In the meantime it’s your turn to wax lyrical on the writing process. I yield the floor.


  1. Good on Chandler. This reminds me of the trouble my mother had with the Virago editor and making sure that what she’d purposely written wouldn’t be corrected. She didn’t achieve her aim on a lot of constructions and it bugged her till the day she died.

  2. George Kaplan

    One response to Chandler’s first plaint might be “Better a writer than a dishwasher, Ray!” or, “It’s better to be building a castle on a cobweb than to have to build an actual castle, Crabapple!”

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