Talking Thrillers
June 12, 2011 12:38 PM   Subscribe

Listen to a conversation between legendary American crime novelist Raymond Chandler and James Bond inventor Ian Fleming recorded by the BBC in 1958. The talk ranges from Mafia hits to the nature of villainy to the difference between English and American thriller.
posted by Bookhouse (25 comments total) 94 users marked this as a favorite

*Favorited so hard, before clicking link.

posted by meadowlark lime at 12:56 PM on June 12, 2011 [4 favorites]

I appreciate the link, but I also appreciate the fact, that the volume control of the BBC media player goes up to eleven.
posted by KMB at 2:19 PM on June 12, 2011

The volume... it goes to 11.
posted by PenDevil at 2:22 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Before I commit the next 28 minutes of my life to this could someone advise what number the volume control on the BBC media player goes up to? Tks.
posted by tigrefacile at 2:26 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Wow. It goes up to 0011. License to Ki11.
posted by Hugobaron at 2:32 PM on June 12, 2011

Chandler sounds like he's on the brink of death. And, checking, so it proved.
posted by tigrefacile at 2:33 PM on June 12, 2011

Chandler: I can't write a book in 2 months.
Fleming: Well, you write better books than I do.

My favorite moment in this thoroughly fantastic back-and-forth.
posted by axiom at 2:41 PM on June 12, 2011

About half-way in and enjoying it immensely, many thanks, though did Fleming really start by asking where Chandler got his ideas in not so many words? Thought that was the one thing you didn't ask an author. Going from the pics, is the difference between US and UK pipe vs tab in a cigarette holder?
posted by Abiezer at 2:58 PM on June 12, 2011

Any transcripts?
posted by lalochezia at 3:47 PM on June 12, 2011

What an entertaining, macabre, wryly competitive conversation. Such a fascinating volley that vacillated between gruffly affectionate, mutually curious and macho guys strutting their stuff to and for each other. I so enjoyed that! What a fun find Bookhouse. thanks.

So interesting to hear the both of them talk about villains, how Fleming felt that psychopaths are pitiable because of their illness and that's not a favorable attribute in a villain, to be pitiable.

A brief aside: Thomas Corbally, who allegedly had a complex relationship with Ian Fleming, was supposedly partly a model for James Bond.
posted by nickyskye at 4:17 PM on June 12, 2011

Is there a way to download an mp3 of this?
posted by nosila at 4:25 PM on June 12, 2011

Finally listened. Chandler is a gentleman throughout, but he clearly wipes the floor with Fleming in his discussion of the craft of writing. See his comment re: American busboys putting ice waters on the tables in restaurants before the waitress comes over. Chandler was so disappointed that Fleming hadn't noted that in "Casino Royale"!

It's somewhat breathtaking to consider what Chandler said, that prior to his novels "Los Angeles hadn't been written about" realistically in a fictional setting.

Note also how precise Chandler is in describing a mob hit, or how he notes that the first thing you do after getting slugged on the head with a pistol is to vomit. In these casually-tossed off observations we see what kind of mind was behind the Marlowe novels.

"Guns never solve anything, they're just a fast curtain to a second act." Ha!
posted by meadowlark lime at 5:04 PM on June 12, 2011

If anyone here hasn't read it The Simple Art of Murder is one of the greatest critical essays I've ever read. Gives you a very good idea of what Chandler was about.
posted by Grimgrin at 5:35 PM on June 12, 2011 [6 favorites]

It is not funny that a man should be killed, but it is sometimes funny that he should be killed for so little, and that his death should be the coin of what we call civilization.

Seconding Grimgrin. That Chandler essay is a keeper.
posted by Kinbote at 5:50 PM on June 12, 2011

Thanks for that great link, Grimgrin. On my phone, so I'll have to wait for the FPP link.
posted by brundlefly at 7:02 PM on June 12, 2011

The Simple Art of Murder is also a collection of short stories. It's worth buying for Pearls Are a Nuisance alone.
posted by Brocktoon at 8:07 PM on June 12, 2011

Brocktoon: That is easily my favorite story from that collection. It fairly oozes with repressed homoeroticism.
posted by Grimgrin at 9:40 PM on June 12, 2011

This recording isn't as clean, but it's the same conversation. Direct mp3.
posted by CarlRossi at 10:35 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Man, Chandler sounds in a bad way. The part that struck me as cementing things in time was where Fleming discusses his next book will be "Goldfinger" and Chandler starts describing the issues he's facing in his next book - which would become "Poodle Springs". Of course, that brings to mind Parker who we lost last year.

I also think that Fleming was being charitable with his praise of Playback
posted by drewbage1847 at 12:03 AM on June 13, 2011

though did Fleming really start by asking where Chandler got his ideas in not so many words? Thought that was the one thing you didn't ask an author

Well, Fleming himself had a moderately interesting background, which fed into his best-known work. I imagine it would be interesting to find out if Chandler had the same and, if not, why crime fiction tickled his fancy.
posted by rodgerd at 4:08 AM on June 13, 2011

So what was keeping Fleming so busy the other ten months of the year? Seriously.
posted by IndigoJones at 6:22 AM on June 13, 2011

"I have always smoked and drunk and loved too much. In fact I have lived not too long but too much. One day the Iron Crab will get me. Then I shall have died of living too much", Indigo Jones.
posted by rodgerd at 12:36 PM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yes, I saw that. But honestly, you can't fill up an entire day that way.

Or maybe you can. I couldn't.
posted by IndigoJones at 4:49 AM on June 14, 2011

It was very interesting to hear Fleming aware of the shortcomings of his work. He knew what he was writing, aspired to be better, but wasn't really apologetic about it. He didn't feel there was anything wrong with some simple, mindless fun.

It's also nice the way this puts paid (did I do that right?) to my comment in the Mary Sue thread.
posted by Eideteker at 9:28 AM on June 14, 2011

Also totally regretting not picking up The Big Sleep during my big birthday bookbuying binge at The Strand yesterday. Stupid Eastside, stop being so far out of the way!
posted by Eideteker at 9:45 AM on June 14, 2011

« Older There is no cabal.   |   Transparent Things Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments