Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
The Big Sleep (A Philip Marlowe Novel) Paperback – July 12, 1988
|New from||Used from|
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
"His thin, claw-like hands were folded loosely on the rug, purple-nailed. A few locks of dry white hair clung to his scalp, like wild flowers fighting for life on a bare rock." Published in 1939, when Raymond Chandler was 50, this is the first of the Philip Marlowe novels. Its bursts of sex, violence, and explosively direct prose changed detective fiction forever. "She was trouble. She was tall and rangy and strong-looking. Her hair was black and wiry and parted in the middle. She had a good mouth and a good chin. There was a sulky droop to her lips and the lower lip was full."
From Library Journal
Chandler is not only the best writer of hardboiled PI stories, he's one of the 20th century's top scribes, period. His full canon of novels and short stories is reprinted in trade paper featuring uniform covers in Black Lizard's signature style. A handsome set for a reasonable price.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
I did read a few 1 and 2 star reviews after I'd finished the book, and I can understand someone not caring for a particular style, but had a hard time, without concrete examples, imagining what was boring or outdated (other than a few terms: "buzzer pinned to the flap" - "slaty eyes" - "a six mover"). Nothing more than I find reading British books (I'm in Texas), and the Kindle app usually can get me a definition for the cultural variances pretty easily. And that might be a good reason to opt for a digital version, though I personally would want to avoid any "dramatized" versions the reviews bring up. I feel I probably read the author's original intent in my edition.
The descriptive atmosphere was sparing but, I thought, extremely effectively used. "Seaward a few gulls wheeled and swooped over something in the surf and far out a white yacht looked as if it was hanging in the sky." - "A nasty building. A building in which the smell of stale cigar butts would be the cleanest odor."
Which brings me to two other things I really liked about Raymond Chandler's writing: sentence variation and a wry sense of self humor.
I had been under the mistaken impression that Chandler mostly or even only used short sentences. In fact his has quite a variety, including the use of complex compound sentences followed by short fragments. The effect is stimulating and powerful:
"I came out at a service station glaring with wasted light, where a bored attendant in a white cap and a dark blue windbreaker sat hunched on a stool, inside the steamed glass, reading a paper. I started in, then kept going. I was as wet as I could get already. And on a night like that you can grow a beard waiting for a taxi. And taxi drivers remember."
The humor, I felt, was subtle. Enjoyed it tremendously.
There's much more I could mention, pro and con, the well developed slowly evolving plot, the relationships and attitudes among the women and men, and lack of hispanics, blacks, or other ethnic groups (descriptive of the times) - but I'll end with Raymond's figurative use of language.
I think the first contemporary author I became acutely aware of in their use of metaphors and similes was James Patterson in Zoo. In my review of Zoo, I mentioned how well they worked, most of the time, but occasionally seemed to veer off as not fitting the tone of the passage.
I don't feel this is the case at all in The Big Sleep. The similes and metaphors are well spaced through-out from beginning to end. Appearing a bit more frequently during times of tension or mystery. And never, to my reading, out of place or jarring from the story:
"Another man sat at the corner of the desk in a blue leather chair, a cold-eyed hatchet-faced man, as lean as a rake and as hard as the manager of a loan office." - "I pushed a flat tin of cigarettes at him. His small neat fingers speared one like a trout taking the fly." - "Her very blue eyes flashed so sharply that I could almost see the sweep of their glance, like the sweep of sword."
For me, this is top flight quality writing that entertains.
About as pure a 5 Star as I can give.
I'm going to definitely read some of the other classics from this time period. Lots of fun! Any one who appreciates literature and good writing needs to read this stuff.
"The Big Sleep" is a quick and enjoyable read. Good character development, tight action and dialog, twists and turns. And most enjoyably, Chandler's amazing and funny turns of phrases. A few examples:
"A few locks of dry white hair clung to his scalp, like wild flowers fighting for life on a bare rock."
"The General spoke again, slowly, using his strength as carefully as an out-of-work showgirl uses her last good pair of stockings."
"Dead men are heavier than broken hearts."
I recommend this old detective novel as a quick and thoroughly entertaining read.