"He was a bald-headed man of no particular age ..." or What's your favorite line?
"De Ruse half-closed his eyes and watched the croupier's fingers as they slid back across the table and rested on the edge. They were round, plump, tapering fingers, graceful fingers. De Ruse raised his head and looked at the croupier's face. He was a bald-headed man of no particular age, with quiet blue eyes. He had no hair on his head at all, not a single hair."I've never seen that passage on the lists of famous Chandler quotations, and I don't know why. Maybe the compilers of such lists are more familiar with Chandler's novels than with his short stories. The passage does at least as much to set a mood as the opening to "Red Wind," but how does it do what it does?
How about that juxtaposition of plump and graceful, two words not generally associated? How about no particular age, without qualification or modification, no "appeared to be," no "He could have been thirty, or he could have been sixty"? Or the intensifying not a single hair after Chandler has already told us the croupier is bald? Surprising? Yep. Dreamlike? Otherworldly? Maybe. As good as blondes and bishops and stained-glass windows? I'd say yes.
What's your favorite Chandler line? And why? Or choose a memorable line by another author, and tell my why you like it.
© Peter Rozovsky 2013