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Playback Paperback – August 12, 1988
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Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
“[Chandler] wrote as if pain hurt and life mattered.” --The New Yorker
“Chandler seems to have created the culminating American hero: wised up, hopeful, thoughtful, adventurous, sentimental, cynical and rebellious.” --Robert B. Parker, The New York Times Book Review
“Philip Marlowe remains the quintessential urban private eye.” --Los Angeles Times
“Nobody can write like Chandler on his home turf, not even Faulkner. . . . An original. . . . A great artist.” —The Boston Book Review
“Raymond Chandler was one of the finest prose writers of the twentieth century. . . . Age does not wither Chandler’s prose. . . . He wrote like an angel.” --Literary Review
“[T]he prose rises to heights of unselfconscious eloquence, and we realize with a jolt of excitement that we are in the presence of not a mere action tale teller, but a stylist, a writer with a vision.” --Joyce Carol Oates, The New York Review of Books
“Chandler wrote like a slumming angel and invested the sun-blinded streets of Los Angeles with a romantic presence.” —Ross Macdonald
“Raymond Chandler is a star of the first magnitude.” --Erle Stanley Gardner
“Raymond Chandler invented a new way of talking about America, and America has never looked the same to us since.” --Paul Auster
“[Chandler]’s the perfect novelist for our times. He takes us into a different world, a world that’s like ours, but isn’t. ” --Carolyn See
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Top Customer Reviews
No, it is not the best of his novels-- not by a long shot.
Yes, it is still worth the time that it takes to read.
Playback is an afterword to a great series. As a book, it is a little bit sadder, a little bit more cynical. Marlowe (like Chandler himself?) is going through the motions and none of what used to interest him is quite as compelling. The character and writer both have seen a vision of how it all ends and fail to stay quite as focused on the plot.
In the book, Marlowe agrees to enjoy the charms of the lovely Miss Vermilyea, but not unless she agrees to go somewhere besides his apartment. He had fallen in love with someone else in that room, and is not sure that her charms will live up to the comparison.
He says: "I had a dream here once, a year and a half ago. There is still a shred of it left."
As a reader, you may have the same feeling about this book. It is a lovely moment, but not to be compared to the real thing.
But still, a lovely moment.
A lot of the reviews I've read here so far seem unimpressed with this story -- ignore them. PLAYBACK is classic Chandler.
The book explores some of the social class-conflicts present in other Marlowe's novels although with less bitterness: the policemen are not so brutal, the richmen are not so mean. The girl, though, is as cruel as usual.
The Black Lizard edition is quite good: confortable to read, aesthetically atractive. Just one mistake: the text in the back cover (yes, the one that you read before buying the book) tells you a little bit too much. Marlowe is told to follow a girl and you only know why on chapter 24 (of the 28 of the book). Well, if you read the 12 lines of the back cover you already discovered that before you even bought the book and that spoils half of the mystery (the other half is quite predictable anyway). So the advise is: buy the book, begin reading in the first page and never look at the backcover.
The book is good both for Chandler's fans and just crime novel lovers, but if you hadn't read the previous Marlowe's adventures you wont enjoy it that much. Read the other Marlowe cases first, beginning with The Big Sleep.
"Playback" has all of these elements but, unfortunately, in far lesser quantities than in Chandler's other Philip Marlowe books. In "Playback" Marlowe is assigned to follow this woman without knowing why and to report back on what he finds out about her. All the typical plot devices are there, but the results are far less than scintillating and are sometimes rather dull. If I were to pick out, however, my favorite part of the book it would be Marlowe's conversation with an elderly and infirm man who is staying at a hotel where Marlowe is holed up. Their discussion about the belief in God is incredibly sharp and extremely relevant to a man of Marlowe's profession.
All in all, despite its shortcomings, "Playback," while not top Chandler, is still Philip Marlowe and that can never be bad.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Good plot and solid story. Ither reviews are right -- the writkng is a bit weaker and there is MUCH more of the personal side of Marlowe than ever. Read morePublished 17 days ago by Victor B.
Marlowe's exit is as fine a swansong as you could imagine. He is indomitably, eternally, Marlowe. Unlike conventional novels, let alone series, where we expect character change and... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Lynette McClenaghan
Better than no Raymond Chandler at all but the plot is not as strong. Wonder who finished this book. Certainly not ChandlerPublished 4 months ago by rlm
Not Chandler's best writing, but it's not bad either. The story is pretty straightforward, with a little bit of intrigue. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Anastasia
While the second to last Philip Marlowe novel was the longest, the last was the shortest, coming in at about 170 pages in its most recent reprint. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Adam Graham, Superhero and Detective Fiction Author