Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Later Novels and Other Writings by Raymond Chandler

There are two fiction sections in libraries and bookstores I've always avoided - romance and crime/mystery. That is, until I discovered Raymond Chandler.

I first picked up The Big Sleep last month and completely fell head over heels into the world of Philip Marlowe, private detective, who says things like: "I like to drink, but not when people are using me for a diary."

So I was delighted to see Later Novels and Other Writings, although not on the crime/mystery shelves in the library but in the general adult fiction section. It has a great collection of his work, such as The Lady in the Lake, The Little Sister and The Long Goodbye, all once again starring the delightful Marlowe:

"A private eye wants to play ball with the police. Sometimes it's a little hard to find out who's making the rules of the ball game. Sometimes he doesn't trust the police, and with cause. Sometimes he just gets in a jam without meaning to and has to play his hand out the way it's dealt. He'd usually rather have a new deal. He'd like to keep on earning a living."

His characters are raw and so easily imaginable, and his scenes and details, are just such a thrill to read, as Chandler is a genius in bringing it all to life, perhaps even larger than life:

"Why do I go into such detail? Because the charged atmosphere made every little thing stand pit as a performance, a movement distinct and vastly important. It was one of those hypersensitive moments when all your automatic movements, however long established, however habitual, become separate acts of will. You are like a man learning to walk after polio. You take nothing for granted, absolutely nothing at all."
All thoroughly enjoyable pageturners. This collection also contains his screenplay Double Indemnity and I was thrilled to find out that it's available on Netflix's instant viewing list, and I can't wait to see how it'll look on the screen.

As for the 'romance' shelves? I don't think I'm going to take a crack at that yet. If ever.


Carrie said...

Double Indemnity is amazing for the male lead's wooden man imitation and the way that "baby" is thrown around like a dagger. It also stars one of my fave ladies of the B&W screen, Barbara Stanwyck.

Enjoy it. The scene in the grocery store is the best bit of sunglassery I've ever seen!

m.t. said...

heyo. you've been reading soooo much, when are you going to create your own fiction? hee.