Sunday, 7 May 2017

“Medium height, fattish”: The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

In 1939, when The Big Sleep was published, the average American adult male was around 5’9” (175cm); about the same as today. I mention this because in Chapter 5, Philip Marlowe asks a woman to describe Mr. Geiger, a book store owner. This is what she says:

“In his early forties, I should judge. Medium height, fattish. Would weigh about a hundred and sixty pounds. Fat face, Charlie Chan moustache, thick soft neck. Soft all over.” 

She gives Marlowe more, including a glass eye, but it’s enough to make my point.

In the 1930s, a medium height guy was ‘fattish’ and ‘soft all over’ at 160 lbs (72.6 kg). Fattish and soft.

According to Infogalactic, the average American woman is now four pounds heavier than fat boy Geiger. If that doesn't tell you something about feminism, safe spaces and the walking dead, then nothing will. 

If Philip Marlowe were alive today, he wouldn’t be throwing naked, good looking dames out of bed after midnight, he’d be throwing up in the bathroom at the sight of fat pigs who should keep their clothes on. Sure, they’d complain on Twitter about being body shamed, but Marlowe wouldn’t give a damn. And nor should any man today.

We’ll never see the likes of Chandler again. He’s had a million imitators, but not even the best have captured a city and a time like he did. Nearly eighty years on, his writing is as fresh as the day the ink dried. We'll never see the days of slim American women again either. More's the pity. Chandler's dames were always hot.

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