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A Sentence About a Sentence I Love, by Ted Pelton

“I had a drunk on like seven Swedes.”

Raymond Chandler

 

Have been trying off and on for two weeks to locate the exact source of this remembered sentence from somewhere in Chandler, perhaps The Long Goodbye, that novel where everyone is perpetually soused on gimlets, equal parts gin and Rose’s lime juice we’re told in the novel, and which, the sentence I mean, I read in the midst of a Chandler binge in I want to say 2002 when I was about to begin a month’s residency at Vermont Studio Center to finish my novel Malcolm & Jack and wanted to get that hard-boiled cadence into my head, just as I had binged Kerouac and Malcolm X speeches and read & re-read Billie Holiday’s Lady Sings the Blues (though ghost-written) and even read and re-read Edie Parker Kerouac’s one published work at the time, an 8 page excerpt of a book no one wanted, to try to get something of her narrative voice in my head, which backfired and was the one thing people criticized most in the novel, that no Beat chick would really sound this way because she was, in real life, kinda boring and conventional and she borrowed the best stories of her own life from what Kerouac remembered and wrote about her, like about how when they met she had eaten five sauerkraut frankfurters and he’d fallen in love with her, she said, he fell in love with me, and now I say all this with detectable echoes to my ears of Faulkner and Thomas Bernhard, as not just the words of a great sentence are quotations but their rhythms and cadences and what makes Toni Morrison Toni Morrison or Chandler Chandler is the uncopyrightable sound that nonetheless is immortalized as their signature/s, and the sentence now way above me stays in my head although it makes little logical sense except that I think the protagonist, likely Philip Marlowe, was describing feeling red-faced and uncontainable, and that Chandler himself had been reading and in some way was under the spell of Gertrude Stein.
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About Ted Pelton

Ted Pelton is the author of Endorsed by Jack Chapeau, Bhang, Malcolm and Jack (and other Famous American Criminals), Bartleby, the Sportscaster. He has received Individual Fellowships for Fiction from the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and from the Isherwood Foundation. He has a PhD in English from University at Buffalo and an MA in Creative Writing from Colorado University, Boulder. Currently, he is Chair of Humanities at Medaille College of Buffalo, NY, and Director of Starcherone Books, a nonprofit innovative fiction press he founded in 2000.
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5 thoughts on “A Sentence About a Sentence I Love, by Ted Pelton

  1. Perhaps the sentence came from Chandler’s The Lady in the Lake:
    “I was out on the roof last night and I’ve got a hangover like seven Swedes.”

  2. Great sentence and image, though not sure Chandler (or Philip Marlowe) would care for the company. Farewell my Lovely has some classic lines as does The Big sleep…and that LA summer noir-o-delick novella Red Wind. Ho-wood never really did Chandler’s writing justice (tho’ Hawks tried –with Bogart and Bacall. James Garner was not half bad, but Mitchum’s Farewell my Lovely probably best of the lot).

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