Being a Man: David Szalay and Ted Hodgkinson

On Open Book - men and fiction: award winning writer David Szalay's new book, All That Man Is, is a collection of stories about men, young to old, all living away from home and struggling to make sense of their lives. He, and Ted Hodgkinson literature programmer at London's Southbank, talk to Mariella Frostrup about what it is to be a man in the the 21st century, and how that's currently being explored in fiction.
Dr Sarah Dillon examines the prose of that most masculine of novelists - the hard boiled detective fiction writer Raymond Chandler and, in our Reading Clinic, John Mullan offers advice to a listener who wants to read novels about 'doing the right thing'.

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28 minutes

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Thu 28 Apr 2016 15:30

Close Reading from The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

          On a sort of low dais at one end of the room there was a high-backed teakwood chair in which Miss Carmen Sternwood was sitting on a fringed orange shawl. She was sitting very straight, with her hands on the arms of the chair, her knees close together, her body stiffly erect in the pose of an Egyptian goddess, her chin level, her small bright teeth shining between her parted lips. Her eyes were wide open. The dark slate colour of the iris had devoured the pupil. They were mad eyes. She seemed to be unconscious, but she didn’t have the pose of unconsciousness. She looked as if, in her mind, she was doing something very important and making a fine job of it. Out of her mouth came a tinny chuckling noise which didn’t change her expression or even move her lips.
          She was wearing a pair of long jade earrings. They were nice earrings and had probably cost a couple of hundred dollars. She wasn’t wearing anything else.
          She had a beautiful body, small, lithe, compact, firm, rounded. (Her skin in the lamplight had the shimmering lustre of a pearl. Her legs didn’t quite have the raffish grace of Mrs Regan’s legs, but they were very nice. I looked her over without either embarrassment or ruttishness. As a naked girl she was not there in that room at all. She was just a dope. To me she was always just a dope.
          I stopped looking at her, and looked at Geiger… At a glance none of the three shots I heard had missed. He was very dead.
          The flash bulb was the sheet lightning I had seen. The crazy scream was the doped and naked girl’s reaction to it. The three shots had been somebody else’s idea of how the proceedings might be given a new twist. The idea of the lad who had gone down the back steps and slammed into a car and raced away. I could see the merit in his point of view. 

Credits

Role Contributor
PresenterMariella Frostrup
Interviewed GuestDavid Szalay
Interviewed GuestTed Hodgkinson
Interviewed GuestSarah Dillon
Interviewed GuestJohn Mullan

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