the purist who reads your proofs and tell him or her that I write in a sort of broken-down patois which is something like the way a Swiss waiter talks, and that when I split an infinitive, God damn it, I split it so it will stay split."

The fact that Chandler was forced to be so attentive to the language goes some way towards explaining why he was so good at using it. Even within the pulpy exchanges between archetypal characters, there is an authenticity to it. However, exactly why it is so good is sometime hard to pin down. It is never sluggish, and often fast-paced. There are passages of great detail that seem nonetheless economical. He can convey a person's whole aspect in a single sentence, or linger on the description of a facial expression: "Her whole body shivered and her face fell apart like a bride's pie crust. She put it together again slowly, as if lifting a great weight, by sheer willpower. The smile came back, with a couple of corners bent." The dialogue is witty and he is the master of the wisecrack. His sentences are often short. And snappy. And to the point. But he also uses repetition to great effect - "There was an overtone of strain in her smile. It wasn't a smile at all. It was a grimace. She just thought it was a smile." To give any more examples of all the above seems superfluous. As Wilder noted, you can open the book on any page and find one.

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