I had forgotten this story but Simon Hoggart in his Television column in this week’s Spectator (3 September issue – will be online next week) reminds us about Raymond Chandler’s technique for writing a novel:
Chandler used to slice A4 sheets of paper into four, horizontally, allowing him to type roughly 25 double-spaced words before changing the sheet. If he hadn’t introduced a new character, a plot development or a brilliant turn of phrase, he’d rip it out and start again.
YouTube has a four-part set of clips of a half-hour interview Ian Fleming did with Chandler in 1958 for the BBC’s Third Programme, on the topic of English and American thrillers. Chandler was 66, Fleming 50. It is possible that both had had a drink or three beforehand. It starts here:
According to Frank McShane, who wrote The Life of Raymond Chandler and was editor of the Selected Letters (both excellent books), this is the only recording in existence of Chandler’s voice. He is as funny as you’d hope – he talked as well as he wrote. Seven months later he was dead.
The weird thing is that Fleming sounds exactly like Peter Cook parodying a certain sort of Englishman.