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Image provided by Sean Henry

Sean Henry
Instructor in English

Affiliation with UVic English: Faculty; Alumni, B.A. Hons, 1995

Special Book: The Long Goodbye, Raymond Chandler

When did you first read this book:
I’ve dipped in and out of Chandler for years, so I can’t remember precisely when I first read “The Long Goodbye.” Early ’90s?

Which sentence from this book has special significance for you?

So passed a day in the life of a P.I. Not exactly a typical day but not totally untypical either. What makes a man stay with it nobody knows. You don’t get rich, you don’t often have much fun. Sometimes you get beaten up or shot at or tossed into the jailhouse. Once in a long while you get dead. Every other month you decide to give it up and find some sensible occupation while you can still walk without shaking your head. Then the door buzzer rings and you open the inner door to the waiting room and there stands a new face with a new problem, a new load of grief, and a small piece of money. “Come in, Mr. Thingummy. What can I do for you?” There must be a reason.

What does the sentence mean to you?

I love Chandler. Chandler is one of the great underrated authors of atmosphere; passages in his novel rivel the great opening chapter of “Bleak House” for creating mood and place. This particular passage moves and delights me in its bleak self-irony, and comes floating into my mind when the world presses rather to hard upon me for comfort. I love the way Chandler plays with parallel construction here, pulling our expectations out from underneath our feet with that “Once in a long while.” Wry; bitter; ironic: so passes a day in the life of an English instructor (except without the luxury of an office bottle!).

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