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The Raymond Chandler Papers: Selected Letters and Nonfiction 1909-1959 Paperback – October 3, 2002

4.6 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Chandler, author of such hard-boiled detective classics as The Big Sleep and The Long Goodbye, wrote highly entertaining letters on subjects ranging from literature to Hollywood to cats letters, no question, from a poet of the mean streets and an extremely witty curmudgeon. Regarding detectives, he notes: "The real life private eye is a sleazy little judge from the Burns Agency, or a strong arm guy with no more personality than a blackjack." On publishers: "If you start talking about money, they retire coldly to their professional eminence, and if you start talking about literature, they immediately yank the dollar sign before your eyes." Hiney, author of a 1997 biography of Chandler, has gathered this collection largely from the superior The Selected Letters of Raymond Chandler (1981), edited by MacShane (who did the first full biography on Chandler in 1976). Hiney's notes presume a bit too much knowledge for a new reader (and, oddly, he seems to think that Dashiell Hammett and Lillian Hellman were married). Previously unpublished scraps provide fresh material, and the few paragraphs about trench warfare in WWI fought by the young author and a late-life meeting with gangster "Lucky" Luciano that Chandler was too drunk to clearly recall are very nice. Reinventing such a standard author for a new century is only a matter of course; since this is Chandler's writing, quotable, funny, even hilarious comments appear on every page.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

It would be a mistake to brush this work aside as just one more collection of letters written by yet another opinionated author with a drinking problem. This slim volume packs a powerful punch! Examining the selected letters and nonfiction of Chandler (1888-1959) reveals the occasionally softer side of the man behind the hard-boiled mysteries. Readers will chuckle at Chandler's views of Hollywood, television, literary critics, dust jacket designs, and author photographs, and they will be touched by his letters to colleagues showing his compassion for his sickly wife, Cissy, his sense of loss after her death, and the disintegration that followed. Also included are a few fun letters to fans who asked him to divulge more facts about the fictional world of Philip Marlowe, such as the character's fondness for pets, his favorite movies, and the caliber of his guns. Editors Hiney (Raymond Chandler) and MacShane (ed., The Selected Letters of Raymond Chandler) have carefully selected pieces to enable diehard fans and students of literature to watch Chandler's life blossom, unfold, and collapse. Recommended for popular culture collections, this would be an ideal work for book discussion group leaders. Joyce Sparrow, Juvenile Welfare Board Lib., Pinellas Park, FL
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press (October 3, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802139469
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802139467
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,532,715 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I was surprised that so much material from a previous collection ('Selected letters of Raymond Chandler', ed. McShane, 1981)is repeated in this book. Maybe I didn't do my homework, but I don't recall this fact being mentioned in promotions or reviews. When you're paying (as I did) [price] for a book, it's disappointing to keep coming across previously published letters. Chandler's writing is still great, but I'm sure he'd have something to say about this practice.
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Format: Hardcover
What a fun collection this is! Another book of letters by another famous author I read recently was embarrassingly boring--it never should have been printed. But Chandler's style and pithy observations make this collection a treat. Though a loner and a lush, he maintained cordial relations with his colleagues, and his comments on the passing scene are keen. From acerbic observations on life in southern California, to wry descriptions of his cat's habits, to sometimes generous and sometimes acerbic appraisals of agents, publishers, and fellow writers, his prose is absolutely sparkling.
His coverage of Oscars night in the mid-Forties for The Atlantic magazine is a masterpiece of scorn for the glitterati. Around the same time he accurately dismisses the new medium of television's supposed threat to the book industry. People who tune in to watch "fourth-rate club fighters rub noses on the ropes are not losing any time from book reading." Just as frequently, Chandler comes across as thoughtful and a good friend--not at all Marlowe-ish, though you get the feeling he could be a tough guy if need be. If you read only one book of collected letters of a famous author this year, etc.
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Format: Paperback
Raymond Chandler wrote his letters, for the most part, late at night after a day of drinking. The letters provide an insight into the man who created the quintessential fictional PI, Philip Marlowe, and elevated what he called formula writing into a class of literature recognized by his contemporaries as art. The letters range from his laugh-out-loud take on science fiction--"Did you ever read what they call science fiction? It's a scream. It's written like this: I checked out K19 on Adabaran III, and stepped out through the crummaliote hatch..." to the sadness he experienced when his wife of more than thirty years passed away. I enthusiastically recommend this book. Even people who hadn't had the good fortune to read his classic mystery novels will be highly entertained.
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By A Customer on May 24, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Chandler had probably never seen most of the people with whom he corresponded in his letters, but his opinions on everything from the plight of the writer in Hollywood to the merits of housecats are not only witty and memorable, but also indicate an extremely thoughtful man and first-rate analytical mind. The only problem I had with Hiney's editing is that a bit more could have been explained--although some of the context of each letter is provided, additional information would have been helpful. I believe I would have appreciated Chandler's observations even more had this been the case.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Not just for Chandler fans (though anyone who's read Chandler is a fan). Not just for writers (though anyone who writes will be comforted and instructed). The book is a wonderfully keen (and occasionally cranky) observation of America in the 1940s and 50s, with buckshot at Hollywood, politics, crime, critics, corruption, literature and life. Curl up on a snowy weekend with this crackling American voice. Chandler is great company.

And if you're really into Chandler, try Frank McShane's biography of him.
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