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Crime Fiction 7

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English (Arts)
ENGL 324
Thomas Heise

ENG 324// Lecture 7: January 25, 2011 Chess Game - reason knights don't have any place in the game is because except for the queen in chess any other figure is rigid in its movement - need to fit into rules - always moving in anticipation of other person –always thinking ahead - why doesn't that work? There isn’t any rule system that can be written in advance and applied to messy social situations that Marlowe finds himself in - in the world of LA in late 1930s (of vast wealth, corruption, double crossing, duplicity)—a world that throws whole chessboard over - in other words, if going to be successful as detective, politician, blackmailer, gambler etc need to be light on your feet/do things that are not as ethically defensible - commentary on gentile detective story?—carefully plotted structure and cast of characters Sun Belt cities - money moving from rust-belt to sun-belt cities - partly due to decline of the inner city, to better climate, better economic climate - transformation in north American culture and economics - LA is a sun belt city—centre of aerospace and weapons economy, IT - Big transformation that has left other cities behind - Created lots of wealth for a few people A Los Angeles Novel Description of the City— - how LA is represented in the novel; particular attention to domestic, commercial spaces; downtown LA; to what extent it becomes a navigable terrain - website “the big sleep and LA geography” - LA is the site of so many crime novels—city of sunshine so why also the city of noir? - In 1920s, a lot of writers migrated out to LA o In part because Hollywood starts out as film town o Move out hoping to find work - LA in fiction of 20s-40s represented as a massive disappointment - It is mythological in American culture place of renewal, sunshine, where you go to remake yourself— true in early part of 20th century - In first decades of 20th century massive advertising campaign to sell LA as new place to live to Americans in upper Midwest - Curative climate - Inevitably a kind of falling off/disappointment, sense of betrayal—just like any other place - Dirty water, police corruption, Mexicans - This disappointment gets picked up in a lot of fiction of LA in 30s - E.g. David Fine - LA and Hollywood become synonymous with production of fantasies - Cultural mythos of California and LA picked up by Hollywood –“the good life” - Get some sense in Chandler of the influence of Hollywood - Characters who are less than real in the sense that they are kinds of facades: o Mona as a wig o Geiger’s glass eyeball o Mexican musicians at eddie mars’ joint sipping tequila that is just water o chief gangsters trying to act like their Hollywood counterparts pg 186— § the brown man: “as Hollywood had taught him it should be done” § taking on the mannerisms of Hollywood gangsters = irony § like a stage play - as if nothing is solid in the world of LA o e.g. pg 34; breaking into Geiger’s house o architecture of house unstable o “only part couldn't put your foot through was the front door” - Page 105 o Solid, old fashioned house o As if house has been picked up
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