What books do we re-read? When I was in high school, I spent my study hall reading the "Lord of the Rings".Over and over again. I read all of Thomas Wolfe's five pound novels, for I loved passages where he described loneliness, and the sound of trains, and the promises of the great American night.But one wants more wit and irony as one grows older,and even less innocence.
I read Raymond Chandler repeatedly. "The Long Goodbye" and the "Lady in the Lake" never grow old. They are as fresh as the day they were written. Here is private eye Phillip Marlowe talking about the first time he met Terry Lennox, the man who is the mystery at the heart of "The Long Goodbye". Marlowe is describing Lennox's female companion:
"There was a girl beside him. Her hair was a lovely shade of dark red and she had a distant smile on her lips and over her shoulders she had a blue mink that almost made the Rolls-Royce look like just another automobile. It didn't quite. Nothing can".
In fifty years will anyone read John Updike or Phillp Roth? I doubt it. But people will read Chandler forever.