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In this biography of the master of hard-boiled detective fiction, MacShane makes discriminating use of Chandler's letters and journals to portray his tangled personal life and rapid literary growth. "MacShane's biography is as important as it is fascinating," PW commented. Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
A glance at the chapter notes of THE LIFE OF RAYMOND CHANDLER reveals that this biography's primary source is Chandler's letters. This has its advantages, since Chandler was an entertaining correspondent, making this biography fun to read. His letters, sent primarily to his associates in publishing, also show Chandler to be wryly self-deprecating, idealistic about the writer's quest, bristling and pugnacious in business, and restless.
At the same time, this reliance on Chandler's letters poses problems. MacShane, for example, gives relatively little space to THE BIG SLEEP or THE LADY IN THE LAKE, which published before Chandler's prolific letter writing went into high-gear. In contrast, he gives many pages to Chandler's time in Hollywood, for which there are abundant (and querulous) letters. Certainly, this unevenness in the record is a common problem for biographers. Even so, THE LIFE OF RAYMOND CHANDLER sometimes feels driven by the information at hand, not by the experiences that pertain to the creation of Ray's wonderful novels.
In the first nine chapters of the eleven-chapter THE LIFE, the face that Chandler presents to the world through his letters doesn't seem quite real. But in chapter ten, Chandler's wife Cissy dies at 84 and Chandler, 18 years her junior, falls apart. Then, his chronic drinking problem becomes suicidal and his arm's length relations with women--the elderly Cissy retired early to her own bedroom while Chandler wrote his letters--becomes a desperate search for another unsuitable partner. At this point, the craziness that Chandler contained as a married and friendless loner manifests. In retrospect, this reader is amazed that Chandler could achieve so much with such profound inner turmoil.Read more ›
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