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The Long Goodbye Paperback – August 12, 1988
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"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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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.
"Raymond Chandler is a master." --The New York Times
“[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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This is Chandler's best because it examines the issues that shaped and complicated his life. Terry Lennox and his two gangster friends are bound by ties forged in a WWII foxhole. Chandler himself served in the trenches in France during WWI and knew that combat experiences (and the men who shared them) could never be erased.
Then there's alcoholism. Best-selling author Roger Wade has a lovely home and a gorgeous wife and a publisher who wonders why he's drinking himself to death. Chandler knew all about the lure of the bottle. Starting as a bookkeeper, he worked his way up to Vice-President of an L.A. oil company by 1931. The following year he was fired because of his alcoholism and the problems it created at home and at work.
And there are suicides. A suicide that was a murder. A suicide that was a suicide. And a suicide that haunts Marlowe until he finally solves the puzzle. Chandler claimed that it was the suicide of a talented writer friend that made him turn from reporting to bookkeeping. The collapse of his business career sent him back into writing and his own threats to commit suicide played a big role in that collapse.
THE LONG GOODBYE was published in 1954 and marked the end of Chandler's productivity. His beloved Cissy was dying and he himself was suffering from years of overwork and hard drinking. The book is filled with Chandler's trademark sardonic humor (the essay on blondes and the description of the photogenic, empty-headed sheriff are particularly fine) but it's a dark book. Although he grew up in England, Chandler loved the American West and its eccentricities and excesses. He just didn't have any illusions about it. This is a classic. If you haven't read it, you should.
This first crime novel of Raymond Chandler was written in 1939 and really was the frontrunner of many more stories like these. It's been said that Chandler was enamored of many famous writers----Charles Dickens, Henry James, and Ernest Hemingway to name a few. Like these examples he really does paint a realistic picture of the environments and the inner characters of the people portrayed in the story. I would liken his style more like Hemingway----stark, abrupt, and to the point. The writing though has a humorous edge to it and I liken it to present day mystery writers like the late Robert B. Parker of the Spencer series. In fact, Parker was responsible for completing Chandler's last book as he died before it was finished.
Chandler's descriptions are unlike any author I've read. Here is an excerpt describing the inside of General Sternwood's greenhouse: "The plants filled the place, a forest of them, with nasty meaty leaves and stalks like the newly washed fingers of dead men. They smelled as overpowering as boiling alcohol under a blanket."
Really keeps you wanting more after reading phrases like that! The story pulls you in and there are twists and turns and more characters keep popping up and most of them aren't nice people! The bodies pile up, the story gets deeper and the detective Philip Marlowe gets in even deeper. At the end of the book he describes what he does for a living and the fee is twenty five dollars a day. And after he finishes this job all bets are that his prices will go up!!
Part of the problem is that the family poor Marlowe is trying to protect are some of the most unappealing characters in modern literature. Marlowe seems to feel sympathy for old General Sternwood, but I think he's an awful old bastard. As for his two crazy daughters, the less said about them the better.
Of course, being Marlowe, our hero doesn't stick to the job at hand, but branches off whenever an interesting side-line appears on the horizon. He can never resist a challenge and he can never force himself to stick to the task at hand (the one he's supposedly being paid for.) It's what makes Chandler's stories fascinating, but not terribly realistic. A real detective follows the money. Marlowe follows his nose.
Some critics say that Marlowe is a modern-day knight, battling the dragons of corruption. In 1930's Southern California, he has plenty to keep him busy. Prohibition has been repealed and rum-running is only a fond memory, but the enterprising types who made a good living at it have transferred their talents to drugs and illegal gambling and pornography. And the bad, beautiful Sternwood sisters are right in the middle of it all.
There are some good characters, including the Sternwood's forceful old family retainer Norris. Norris is an anomaly in the Sternwood household and you have to wonder how he hooked up with them and why he stays. I also liked gambler/racketeer Eddie Mars. He's a man who operates outside of the law, but with the law's full knowledge and cooperation. He's a crook, but an intelligent one.
Mars isn't bound by any code of ethics, but he knows that violence creates trouble and trouble costs money. He prefers negotiation over strong-armed tactics, which makes him more predictable (and therefore less dangerous) than the low-level grifters who hang around the edges of large-scale crime. They're hoping to pick up crumbs dropped by the big crime bosses, but stupidity and greed bring them down.
A jarring note is the introduction of the pornographer's boyfriend and Marlowe's heavy-handed reaction to him. It doesn't advance the plot and it's not in keeping with Marlowe's tolerant persona. I suspect that Chandler wasn't yet sure enough of his talents to step out of the shadow of Dashiell Hammett, whose MALTESE FALCON created a sensation by featuring the forbidden topic of homosexuality. I've read all of Chandler's books and I don't remember him ever returning to this topic.
It's Chandler and it's good. It's just not as good as his later books. However, it launched him as a legitimate novelist and paved the way for FAREWELL, MY LOVELY and his other great books. Everyone has to start somewhere.