"I fired two shots that sprouted into big red blossoms across the white cotton shirt he wore."Why not "his white cotton shirt"? What does "he wore" add? What could the victim have been doing with his shirt except wearing it? If yesterday's writing quirk was common in American pulp stories of the 1920s, '30s, and '40s, I associate this one with writers of the '40s and '50s, often when describing the attire of an attractive woman. But "the dress she wore" (rather than "her dress") always takes me out of the story, if just for a moment.
— "Carrera's Woman" by Ed McBain
writing as Richard Marsten, Masters of Noir: Volume One
Why would Marsten/McBain/Hunter/Lombino use "the white cotton shirt he wore" rather than "his white cotton shirt"? Does one convey something the other does not? Was he merely using the words that came naturally at the time (1953)? If the fashion in words changed in favor of brevity, when? And why?
© Peter Rozovsky 2012