Full Payment for an Hour of Perfect Bliss
“In his novels, Millar resolved his contradictions: there he hid and revealed an aching loneliness, a melancholy humor, and a lifetime of anger, fear, and regret.”
Ross Macdonald, A Biography, by Tom Nolan
Dashielle Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and Kenneth Millar aka Ross Macdonald, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit of hardboiled detective fiction.
Millar was born in 1913 to Canadian parents in Los Gatos, California. His father, Jack, was a Scots atheist, mother Annie a Christian Scientist. They argued violently. The family moved to Vancouver.
“His father was a harbor-boat pilot there, and Millar recalled the ‘unforgettable’ occasion when his dad took him to sea: ‘I stood beside him in the offshore light, with his hands and my hand on the wheel.’ At the age of sixty-three, he judged this ‘the happiest day of my childhood if not my life.’”
“The boy later remembered a less happy incident: when he looked through a hotel balcony grating and saw a body spread-eagled in the alley below. The man wasn’t dead, only dead drunk; but the frightening image stayed in his mind. For the four-year-old, his parents’ separation was as sudden and awful as the sight of that body. Like a child in a fairy tale, he blamed himself. His father’s absence marked him forever. The world, it seemed, was a place that took full payment for an hour of perfect bliss.”