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The Big Sleep & Farewell, My Lovely (Modern Library) Hardcover – May 2, 1995
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From the Inside Flap
Farewell My Lovely, which Chandler regarded as his finest work, came out the following year. It has Marlowe dealing with the Los Angeles gambling circuit, a murder he stumbles upon, and three very beautiful but potentially deadly women.
"Chandler writes like a slumming angel and invests the sun-blinded streets of Los Angeles with a romantic presence," said Ross Macdonald. And George V. Higgins wrote: "Chandler is fun to read. He's as bleak as tundra, and his dirtbag characters far outnumber his stellar citizens, but Philip Marlowe is a laconic tour guide through a zoo of truly interesting animals."
From the Back Cover
--George V. Higgins
Top Customer Reviews
One thing you should note is that Chandler held the conventional detective stories (think: Agatha Christie) in disdain. Ergo, any attempt of mine to barf back the plots to you is a waste of time. They are so complex that you often forget exactly what happened shortly after you finish reading the books themselves...which doesn't detract from their quality whatsoever mind you. It's been told often enough that after their publication, Chandler often didn't even know what was going on in his own novels!
Suffice to say that both books concern murder among the wealthy elites in L.A. during Chandler's life--a time when the city was a lot smaller than its present size, and more hostile to outsiders--particularly to people of color. "The Big Sleep" concerns a disappearance and a reclusive millionaire and his two daughters (one is a mentally deranged nymphomaniac; the other is a bit more sensible, but no less shady) and the lengths he'll go to protect them. While this isn't the best Marlowe novel, this is probably the best place to start. Plus, it got made into a pretty good movie starring Bogie and Bacall.
"Farewell, My Lovely" is perhaps the most politically incorrect of the Marlowe books. It starts off with a murder at a bar in South Central L.A. and extends its tentacles into jewel heists and gambling rings where it is difficult to ascertain exactly who is doing what to whom. In Chandler's L.A., nothing is what it seems.Read more ›
Chandler can write: he has an sense of vivid description, and his use of similes is masterful. His prose alone was a pleasure to read, but he also has a keen sense of characters, plots, and almost byzantine twists there-in.
Of the two stories, The Big Sleep struck me as the better of the pair both in terms of plot and presentation. I was a bit skeptical for much of Farewell My Lovely, as he seemed to be using a lot of "coincidence" to move things along -- something of a pet peev of mine -- but to my surprise he was able to tie it all together at the end in a fairly satisfactory manner. A calling card of HBDF is the slang and lingo, and there's plenty of it here, and quite often it made me chuckle.
These are interesting little time capsules of 1930s L.A. Modern readers with modern "politically correct" sensibilities should probably be warned that the books (especially Farewell) contain a good deal of un-PC sentiment: there are multiple racial stereotypes, N-bombs, and even a fair amount of misogyny. How much of this is Chandler's own view and how much is his imitation of contemporary culture I don't know, nor do I especially care. Others might not be so forgiving, so you have been cautioned.
This is worth getting for The Big Sleep alone, but Farewell My Lovely is a decent companion piece. I wouldn't want a steady diet of this type of reading, but it certainly piqued my interest enough that I will come back for more.
The blonde spat at me and threw herself on my leg and tried to bite that. I cracked her on the head with the gun, not very hard, and tried to stand up. She rolled down my legs and wrapped her arms around them.
I used my knee on his face. It hurt my knee. He didn’t tell me whether it hurt his face. While he was still groaning I knocked him cold with the sap.
So she pumped five bullets into him, by way of saying hello.
... but my impression this time, with all the revival of Black Mask and Dime Detective writers, Chandler's milieu, is that Chandler knew as much about mean streets and tough guys as Virgil knew about long boats and hecatombs- namely, what he read in books. In Schiller's terminology, Hammett was naive, and Chandler was sentimental.
Thirty years ago, I probably saw THE BIG SLEEP as a key to obscurities in the great Howard Hawks movie. Details that never made it past the Hays Code, like:
I knew about what it would be, of course. A heavy book, well bound, handsomely printed in handset type on fine paper. Larded with full-page arty photographs. Photos and letterpress were alike of an indescribable filth. The book was not new. Dates were stamped on the front endpaper, in and out dates. A rent book. A lending library of elaborate smut.
She was wearing a pair of long jade earrings.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
You can't be a first-class American reader without sampling Raymond Chandler. Most love "The Long Goodbye. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Shawna W T Monson
Just happy I finished reading the book so that the download is not wasted.
The storyline is a chore to follow!!
It's fascinating to read Hammet and Chandler describe SF and LA from a totally bygone era. Chandlers plots are possibly a little far fetched, but thoroughly enjoyable due to his... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Henry Way
Exc. detective/mystery from the old school of mystery writers. Good pace, entertaining, hard boiled and flawed detective that I loved.Published 20 months ago by W. Korson