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Later novels and other writings

av Raymond Chandler

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
723830,872 (4.53)8
Later Novels and Other Writings begins with The Lady in the Lake (1943). Written during the war, the story takes Marlowe out of the seamy L.A. streets to the deceptive tranquility of the surrounding mountains, as the search for a businessman's missing wife expands into an elegy of loneliness and loss. The darker tone typical of Chandler's later fiction is evident in The Little Sister (1949), in which an ambitious starlet, a blackmailer, and a seemingly naive young woman from Manhattan, Kansas, are the key players in a plot that provides fuel for a bitter indictment of Hollywood and Chandler's most savage portrayal of his adopted city. The Long Goodbye (1953), his most ambitious and self-revealing novel, uncovers a more anguished resonance in the Marlowe character, in a plot that hinges on the betrayal of friendship and the compromises of middle age. Playback (1958), written originally as a screenplay, is Chandler's seventh and last novel. A special feature of this volume is Chandler's long-unavailable screenplay for the film noir classic Double Indemnity (1944), adapted from James M. Cain's novel. Supplementing the volume, and providing a more personal glimpse of Chandler's personality, are a selection of essays - including "The Simple Art of Murder," in which Chandler muses on his pulp roots and on the special qualities of his hero and style - and eleven letters that range wittily and often sardonically over the worlds of writing, publishing, and filmmaking.… (mer)
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I have been obsessed with Chandler and his protagonist, Philip Marlowe, for most of my life. Now, I wonder if the character and the works he traipses through are best taken in dramatic form, where actors can breath life into what would now be called a Mary Sue--Chandler's Marlowe is just too good and too perfect to be believable or frankly interesting. In the correspondence in this volume Chandler lays out his fiction-writing philosophy, and for him dialogue and set pieces are more important than the overarching plot. I think the elements are too out of balance, and for most of the novels I just found myself not caring about Marlowe or the byzantine mystery he is unfolding. The best of the novels is Long Goodbye, where characterization and narrative are more in-synch, Chandler does not go into contortions trying to fit the narrative around what he wants to do with the characters. The Long Goodbye is also interesting because Chandler is starting to register the massive social changes of the 20th century USA, such as the rise of television and fast food, and the human wreckage left by military service during WWII. Although its probably less than 15 years since The Big Sleep, it seems like we are a long way from that novel.

In his correspondence Chandler does not come off very well; he is thin-skinned, full of false modesty and clearly thinks he is the best mystery writer (and maybe just best writer) of all time. He gives zero fucks about social issues, despite his novels' vague indictment of societal corruption. ( )
1 rösta jklugman | Jun 27, 2023 |
It was long and mystifying. I am a hardcore Chandler fan, but this one was difficult to finish. ( )
  hmskip | Oct 18, 2022 |
THE LONG GOODBYE | read 2023-02

Two seemingly unrelated cases end up, unsurprisingly, linking together (however tangentially). Marlowe deals with two missing persons, one seemingly feeding off the wealthy ecosystem (Terry Lennox) and another a frustrated best-selling author (Roger Wade). Hollywood isn't directly in the spotlight here, but always looms in the shadows of LA and everyone living there.

Revisiting Maconald's critique: Chandler provides plenty of meaningful observations about people and society in individual lines or in scenes. Chandler gets meaning out of his stories, it's part of why he's a good writer, but there isn't much of a theme to his stories beyond the setup of Marlowe as a realist-acting / romantic-at-heart loner in a society that's losing its promise. It's a an exceedingly conservative and pessimistic outlook, indeed. So I'd argue not that Chandler doesn't write for meaning, rather than his theme remains consistent across all his novels.

"That's the difference between crime and business. For business you gotta have capital. Sometimes I think it's the only difference."
"A properly cynical remark," I said, "but big time crime takes capital too."
"And where does it come from, chum? Not from guys that hold up liquor stores. So long. See you soon."

[George Peters of the Carne Organization to Marlowe, 574]

THE LITTLE SISTER | read 2021-05

Features Hollywood ecosystem, and the media coverage of celebrities and murder, seemingly to show that crime is thoroughly looped into the celebrity culture. People from Manhattan KS and Cleveland OH are drawn to LA and Hollywood -- but also: stereotypes are exploited to wrong-foot the reader (never Marlowe). The country bumpkin is not the naif she pretends to be.

Some additional background on Marlowe, specifying he's 38 years old, and (already mentioned in prior novels?) fired from DA's office in a prior life. He confesses at the end that the case was always too complicated to figure, to "do the natural obvious thing" without second-guessing himself based on how that action "might affect somebody I owed something to" [415] -- when to the reader, Marlowe is always doing that natural thing, and has all the angles figured, though Chandler (and Marlowe) count on the fact that the reader does not.

"The fear of today," he said, "always overrides the fear of tomorrow. It's a basic fact of the dramatic emotions that the part is greater than the whole. If you see a glamour star on the screen in a position of great danger, you fear for her with one part of your mind, the emotional part. Notwithstanding that your reasoning mind knows that she is the star of the picture and nothing very bad is going to happen to her. If suspense and menace didn't defeat reason, there would be very little drama." [297]

THE LADY IN THE LAKE | read 2020-12

Notwithstanding Ross Macdonald's criticism of Chandler for not using plot to deliver meaning, I'd argue Chandler does very well here: the theme of loneliness is pervasive, somehow coming through the murder and double-cross and not leaving the story as one of just thrill-seeking or harsh living. Loneliness is depicted through several characters and situations, too: not only the main storyline, adding an effective counterpoint to Marlowe's patter on the particulars of his missing persons case.

Chandler describes cultural shifts in America, alongside Marlowe's patter, and even calls attention to circumstances on the homefront in WWII: suburbia is already on the make. Overall, The Lady in the Lake is a compelling story and worth revisiting, not primarily for the mystery (though that's strong enough), but for observations on modern American society and the people dissatisfied with it.

Police business is a hell of a problem. It's a good deal like politics. It asks for the highest type of men, and there's nothing in it to attract the highest type of men. So we have to work with what we get .... [140]

//

to read:
PLAYBACK
DOUBLE INDEMNITY ( )
2 rösta elenchus | May 12, 2021 |
Reviewing the novels separately again, but will give little synopses here plus the review of the essays and 'Double Indemnity' script below.

7/25/2012 - 'The Lady in the Lake': 4 Stars

Self-referential humor and a shift in setting showcases how Chandler's style survives outside of L.A.

2/18/2013 - 'The Little Sister': 3 Stars

L.A. (and Hollywood (and, of course, Bay City)) is getting to Marlowe. Jaded and bitter, he contends with another woman with a problem who can't or won't tell him what he needs to know. A frustrated and dark book.

1/20/2011,
10/22/2013 - 'The Long Goodbye': 5 Stars

A masterpiece that holds up to a rereading.

3/30/2014 - 'Playback': 2 Stars

Underwhelming and slight. It might almost be one of the stories from volume one.

5/5/2014 - 'Double Indemnity (Screenplay)': 4 Stars

Much more like it. Two debased, star-crosseds try to cheat the system, and are no match in the end for the actuarial tables.

10/28/2014 - Selected Essays and Letters: 4 Stars

The man behind the writing comes out in essays published in 'Atlantic Monthly' and in personal notebooks about the craft of the mystery story and why author Edmund Wilson is an old woman. His letters were great fun.

See also:

'Raymond Chandler: Stories and Early Novels' ( )
1 rösta ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 18, 2019 |
The novels are excellent, of course, and available elsewhere, but this edition also has letters and essay that add to my appreciation of Chandler. ( )
  Lewter | Dec 3, 2016 |
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Later Novels and Other Writings begins with The Lady in the Lake (1943). Written during the war, the story takes Marlowe out of the seamy L.A. streets to the deceptive tranquility of the surrounding mountains, as the search for a businessman's missing wife expands into an elegy of loneliness and loss. The darker tone typical of Chandler's later fiction is evident in The Little Sister (1949), in which an ambitious starlet, a blackmailer, and a seemingly naive young woman from Manhattan, Kansas, are the key players in a plot that provides fuel for a bitter indictment of Hollywood and Chandler's most savage portrayal of his adopted city. The Long Goodbye (1953), his most ambitious and self-revealing novel, uncovers a more anguished resonance in the Marlowe character, in a plot that hinges on the betrayal of friendship and the compromises of middle age. Playback (1958), written originally as a screenplay, is Chandler's seventh and last novel. A special feature of this volume is Chandler's long-unavailable screenplay for the film noir classic Double Indemnity (1944), adapted from James M. Cain's novel. Supplementing the volume, and providing a more personal glimpse of Chandler's personality, are a selection of essays - including "The Simple Art of Murder," in which Chandler muses on his pulp roots and on the special qualities of his hero and style - and eleven letters that range wittily and often sardonically over the worlds of writing, publishing, and filmmaking.

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