Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Most of Chandler’s works are written from the first-person point of view, enabling the reader to know exactly what the narrator is thinking about and planning to do. “Nevada Gas,” however, is written from the third-person point of view, and, as a result, the reader sees Johnny and the other characters from the outside. Consequently, the reader is always a step or two behind the characters’ motives and thinking and, thereby, behind the meaning of the action. For example, after Johnny’s attempted murder, he immediately begins to search for the meaning of the clues he has, and the reader is left temporarily bewildered about his purpose. Part of the pleasure of a mystery story from the reader’s point of view is to try to think along with the characters and thereby add life to the narrative. If the reader can figure out the mystery long before the sleuth does, then the writer has not done a good job.

The objective third-person point of view and rather unemotional characters of “Nevada Gas” are characteristic of the “hard-boiled” mysteries written by Chandler’s contemporary, Dashiell Hammett, rather than of Chandler’s wisecracking narrative style in the Philip Marlowe novels. Chandler’s eye for the colorful detail that reveals a person’s true nature is much in evidence, as when Johnny says, “When I lose I don’t get sore and I don’t chisel. I just move to the next table.”

Nevada Gas Bibliography

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Bruccoli, Matthew J., and Richard Layman, eds. Hardboiled Mystery Writers: Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Ross Macdonald—A Literary Reference. New York: Carroll & Graf, 2002.

Hiney, Tom. Raymond Chandler: A Biography. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1997.

Lehman, David. “Hammett and Chandler.” In The Perfect Murder: A Study in Detection. New York: Free Press, 1989.

MacShane, Frank. The Life of Raymond Chandler. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1976.

Marling, William. Raymond Chandler. Boston: Twayne, 1986.

Moss, Robert F., ed. Raymond Chandler: A Literary Reference. New York: Carroll & Graf, 2003.

Norrman, Ralf. Wholeness Restored: Love of Symmetry as a Shaping Force in the Writings of Henry James, Kurt Vonnegut, Samuel Butler, and Raymond Chandler. New York: Peter Lang, 1998.

Phillips, Gene D. Creatures of Darkness: Raymond Chandler, Detective Fiction, and Film Noir. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2000.

Skinner, Robert E. The Hard-Boiled Explicator: A Guide to the Study of Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and Ross Macdonald. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 2002.

Van Dover, J. K., ed. The Critical Response to Raymond Chandler. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1995.

Widdicombe, Toby. A Reader’s Guide to Raymond Chandler. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2001.