Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Curtain (short story; Chandler, Raymond)

Rating: 4
Year: 1936
Genre: Crime
Read Again? Maybe

The third short story in the "Trouble Is My Business" collection.

Carmady wakes up to find a man with a gun in his bedroom; it's an acquaintance on the run from some bad guys.

The man gets aced by some thugs with a chopper, so now Carmady's looking for the killers and their bosses...

...and this brings us to a matching scene from "The Big Sleep," where Marlowe went to visit a sick old man who wanted his son-in-law found, had a followup discussion with the old man's daughter, and then a run-in with the house sociopath (Carmen in "Big Sleep," a little boy in this one).

Both "Curtain" and "Killer in the Rain" (1935) were the basis for 1939's "The Big Sleep;" two of his other novels--"Farewell, My Lovely" and "The Lady in the Lake" are also built from earlier short stories. While it was confusing at first (while reading "Killer in the Rain"), and disappointing because now I knew what was about to happen, it's still fascinating to see how Chandler plugged slightly different characters and situations into these pieces.


Anonymous said...

I've never liked Chandler, but I do enjoy pulp fiction in general and wonder if you're familiar with how what you describe (plugging slightly different characters and situations into these pieces) was pretty standard for those writers. It's surreal to read a western and realize you've already read that exact story set on in a fantasy world, even down to similar names.

Howard wrote his only Conan novel that way, too. He cannibalized a half dozen of the existing shorts to create Hour of the Dragon. -- LR

JW said...

This is my first time reading Chandler's short stories, or any pulp stuff aside from his two novels and Dashiell Hammett's "The Maltese Falcon."

Now I'm gonna have to read more and do some behind-the-scenes research. Fascinating!

Anonymous said...

Look for authors who were published in a variety of different genres. A fantasy author might rewrite a story as a bodice ripper or a boxing story to sell the same thing to three different mags. Or if a story didn't sell to the western magazine, they'd just place it in a new setting and try again as a horror story.

Anyone who likes reading should pick up a few pulp stories, I think. It's hugely entertaining to read a story by someone with a large vocabulary who was paid by the word. -- LR