- Paperback: 379 pages
- Publisher: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard; Reissue edition (August 12, 1988)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0394757688
- ISBN-13: 978-0394757681
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1,134 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #37,655 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Long Goodbye Paperback – August 12, 1988
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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
Top customer reviews
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Now, about the story. This is the best Phillip Marlowe I have read to date. I scored the story a 5 star, not the typing, as that is not the author's fault. In this book Marlowe is involved in a short case that comes to a quick close and then starts another case. You just know the two have to be connected, or they wouldn't both be in the book, but you can't figure out how, but they do. And the end of the book has an unexpected twist. You seem to suspect this twist, but the closer you get to the end it seems unlikely, but it still ambushes you, I highly recommend.
If that isn't some great noir writing, I don't know what is! To be honest, when I first set about reading The Big Sleep I wasn't sure how I was going to react to it as I spend most of my recreational reading time in sci-fi and fantasy. The idea of reading a "hard-boiled" detective novel was foreign to me. Seeing how I read the entire book in about two and a half weeks, I guess I took to it quite well!
Now I finally understand why Chandler is considered one of America's great writers. His prose is terse and right to the point - sort of like Hemingway, I think. Despite the paucity of words, Chandler still somehow manages to make every sentence seem filled to the brim with lush descriptions and deep meaning, as with the above quote. Here is another:
“She called me a filthy name. I didn't mind that. I didn't mind what she called me, what anybody called me. But this was the room I had to live in. It was all I had in the way of a home. In it was everything that was mine, that had any association for me, any past, anything that took the place of family. Not much; a few books, pictures, radio, chessmen, old letters, stuff like that. Nothing. Such as they were they had all my memories. I couldn't stand her in that room any longer. What she called me only reminded me of that.”
The story itself is entertaining, if a bit convoluted at times. I have since read that The Big Sleep was cobbled together from various short stories Chandler worked on prior to hitting the big time. This seems accurate as this book often does seem like a collection of unrelated stories. Nonetheless, the writing is so sharp, and the character of Phil Marlowe so engaging, that I found I didn't mind at all!
Overall, I highly recommend this novel, especially if it is going to be your first time in the world of hard-boiled detective fiction (as it was with me). Inviting, entertaining, and wonderfully written, The Big Sleep is rightly considered an example of America's best literature. I am looking forward to the next novel!
If you've not read anything by Raymond Chandler, then the first thing that you'll notice is his descriptive writing. I love it! Take a simple phone booth call, "I dropped my nickel and dialed his number just for fun." There are too many great lines to count, but another of my favorites is, "A few tentative raindrops splashed down on the sidewalk and made spots as large as nickels." I can almost hear Humphrey Bogart reading the book to me.
The film is best known for its confusion, but the book irons those issues straight out. What is really interesting to me is how the then-modern world saw itself. They refer to old fashioned values as Victorian. Homosexuality was out there in a kind of don't ask don't tell way, much like the 80s, actually. However, they were not afraid to notice it. In fact, one man goes both ways in the book! Casual sex did exist, despite what the Hollywood Hays Code wanted everyone to believe. However, I see a lot of misinformed folks making statements about this. City life was different than small-town life. A small town in California is incredibly different than a small town in other parts of the country. Morals are only what a community makes them to be. They shouldn't be forced on anyone and this book actually kind of leads you to that kind of understanding. Morals are personal, not law. Too many confuse that these days.
The steady paced reader could finish this book in less than 7 hours, without any breaks. However, I didn't read it at a steady pace, unless you call crawling along a steady pace and in a way that's really what it was. I liked to savor his words. Raymond Chandler is a descriptive genius. Now there comes a problem too. When there is too much of it, it kind of sounds overdone. There were only a couple of times though that I saw this problem. I have to admit that his craft was interesting because he normally balanced it with interesting dialog with a lot of sarcasm. "... you have to hold your teeth clamped around Hollywood to keep from chewing on stray blondes."
The slanguage is fascinating. If you've never read anything like this before, you're sure to learn a whole bunch of new slang. For example, a police badge is called a "buzzer" and I think "buttons" was police, which is probably referring to their uniforms if I even had that right but you get the idea.
The story is actually two of them. There is a link between them but this easily could have been broken up into two novellas. If I had to make a complaint, it would be the very ending. I think more explanation of someone's intention is necessary but I think that's only an error of time and science. In that day, health and the psyche were still in the early stages and many things they believed then are not necessarily how it worked. I know that sounds cryptic but it's the best way I can describe it without spoiling a single thing.
All in all, it's simply a fantastic book! I think even those who don't like mysteries would enjoy it because of its prose alone. If you're easily offended though, stay away. This is not a book for those kinds of pansy people, which I think Chandler would call them today. This is about what people were like and the morals that they had. It is to be enjoyed, not scorned.
Most recent customer reviews
Read all of Chandlers books- they are all worth the time!
IMHO "The Long Goodbye " was his very best!