Philip Marlowe, that is.
You can read Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler as a classic detective story. Or you can read it for the hard-boiled wisdom it dispenses.
Here’s what Marlowe says about life.
“She was about twenty-eight years old. She had a rather narrow forehead of more height than is considered elegant. Her nose was small and inquisitive, her upper lip a shade too long and her mouth more than a shade too wide. Her eyes were gray-blue with flecks of gold in them. She had a nice smile. She looked as if she had slept well. It was a nice face, a face you get to like. Pretty, but not so pretty you would have to wear brass knuckles every time you took it out.”
“It was a blonde. A blonde to make a bishop kick a whole in a stained glass window. She was wearing street clothes that looked black and white, and a hat to match and she was a little haughty, but not too much. Whatever you needed, wherever you happened to be—she had it. About thirty years old.”
“I lit a cigarette. It tasted like a plumber’s handkerchief.”
“The eighty-five-cent dinner tasted like a discarded mail bag and was served to me by a waiter who looked as if he would slug me for a quarter, cut my throat for six bits, and bury me at sea in a barrel of concrete for a dollar and a half, plus sales tax.”
On Getting High
“So they were evidence. Evidence of what? That a man occasionally smoked a stick of tea, a man who looked as if any touch of the exotic would appeal to him. On the other hand lots of tough guys smoked marihuana, also lots of band musicians and high school kids, and nice girls who had given up trying.”
On Making Conversation
“We sneered at each other across the desk for a moment. He sneered better than I did.”
“The Indian breathed gutturally and set me down with a jar that lifted the top of my head. He had my wrists now, instead of me having his. He twisted them behind me fast and a knee like a corner stone went into my back. He bent me. I’m not the City Hall. I can be bent. He bent me.”
“I stopped. He looked too big. He had three inches on me and thirty pounds. But it was getting to be time for me to put my fist into somebody’s teeth even if all I got for it was a wooden arm.”