Thursday, October 30, 2014

California! Part 1

I was fortunate enough to partake in a road trip up the California coast. Great opportunity to pay some literary homages! First stop was Raymond Chandler's street in La Jolla, San Diego. We tried to seek out the actual house but unfortunately no one on the street knew who Raymond Chandler was. This is where he spent the latter part of his life with his ailing wife. Here he wrote his classic Phillip Marlowe mystery, The Long Goodbye, and where he wrote and set the lesser Playback (which was nevertheless an interesting read after visiting the affluent neighbourhood). This is where Somerset Maugham was taken (as a surprise) to meet Chandler, the two writers were great fans of each other's work. 



This is where Mr and Mrs Chandler (Cissy Pascal) finally settled after a near lifetime of nomadic life in Los Angeles (Cissy never took her furniture out of storage after her first marriage). Unfortunately it wasn't a happy time. Despite the beautiful ocean view, Chandler became difficult and scathing, lamenting not being taken more seriously in literary circles and, of course, the sufferings of his ill wife. After Cissy passed away, Chandler practically drank himself to death within a few years. Nice blogpost on the man here.



On a more upbeat note, further up the coast, along the beautiful but slightly scary cliff edge of Highway 1, we found the Henry Miller Memorial Library in Big Sur. This is where Miller finally found solace in a country he seemed mostly to despise. 


Miller lived here for fifteen years, and in 1957 published Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch, 'a portrait of the place and the people Miller knew there: writers (and writers who didn't write), mystics seeking truth in meditation (and the not-so-saintly looking for sex-cults or celebrity), sophisticated children and adult innocents; geniuses, cranks and the unclassifiable.'

Miller's own home, nearby, is now a private residence, this house was owned by Miller's old compatriot, Emil White, now a ramshackle bookshop/ monument to Miller. 

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