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Simile and the World Similes With You: Contestants Parody Chandler

August 29, 1991

LA JOLLA, Calif. (AP) _ It was an August day in Los Angeles, and would be until midnight.

So began the best of a stack of essays piled like dirty dishes in the steamy kitchen of a greasy spoon diner.

They were the 198 entries in the International Imitation Raymond Chandler Writing contest.

Winners of the contest, sponsored by the Friends of the La Jolla Library, were announced Wednesday. Contestants from 14 states and Korea wrote parodies of Chandler’s novels about hard-boiled gumshoe Philip Marlowe.

Stephen Witty of Mountain View, who works on the copy desk of the San Jose Mercury-News, took the $700 first prize with an entry packed with Chandleresque similes, including a breeze that ″stirred listlessly, like a dancer in a third-rate burlesque house.″

Witty’s detective hero quips, ″Simile and the world similes with you.″

San Bernardino lawyer Larry Preece was second. He described Los Angeles smog this way: ″It pounced on the residents like an alley cat on a baby’s face, sucking the air from their lungs and searing their eyes like a sulphur sauna.″

Third-prize winner Ellen Fisher of La Jolla, a former teacher, had her detective muse, ″For the three-hundredth time I swore I would never again rescue a nude blonde on the beach. That made the day normal.″

Chandler wrote seven novels, all with tough and witty private detective Marlowe as the hero.

Chandler was born in Chicago in 1888 and spent the last 13 years of his life in La Jolla.

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