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Raymond Chandler: Stories and Early Novels: Pulp Stories / The Big Sleep / Farewell, My Lovely / The High Window (Library of America)

av Raymond Chandler

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
749729,550 (4.55)9
"Stories and Early Novels includes every story that Chandler did not later incorporate into a novel - thirteen in all. Drawn from the pages of Black Mask and Dime Detective, these stories show how Chandler adapted the violent conventions of the pulp magazines - with their brisk exposition and rapid-fire dialogue - to his own emerging vision of 20th-century America." "Raymond Chandler: Stories and Early Novels contains a newly researched chronology of Chandler's life, explanatory notes, and an essay on the texts."--BOOK JACKET.… (mer)

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Hard Boiled ( )
  Gumbywan | Jun 24, 2022 |
When I read 'The Long Goodbye' last winter a spark was struck, and when I saw the Library of America's collections of Chandler's stories and novels up in the last days of the swap I couldn't resist.

I've rated the short stories colletively and each novel separately.

11/10/2011 Pulp Stories: 3 Stars

Collected here, unique to all other collections, is every crime story Chandler had published in the 1930s that he didn't later "cannibalize" (his word) for his novels. This saves a lot of repeating for those of you who want to check these stories out after reading the novels, or vice versa. The stories are also presented, with minor corrections, as originally published in the pulp magazines. Several of the better quality stories, such as "Goldfish" and "Trouble is My Business" that weren't incorporated into novels were revised as Marlowe stories for collections.

Chandler clearly labored over all of these stories, but the first few are mostly messy affairs, but little by little the reader can really see Chandler developing the P.I. that would become Philip Marlowe. Let's list them since I bothered to write them down: Mallory, Johnny DeRuse, Sam Delaguerra, Ted Carmady, Pete Anglich, John Dalmas, Steve Grayce, Walter Gage, Tony Reseck. All of these characters, with the exception of Gage (from the mostly dud "Pearls are a Nuisance", see below) all of these characters informed the complicated character of Marlowe. A tough, sensitive, highly moral guy who's tenacious and in a small way a hopeless romantic.

Speaking of that, something else I came across while reading was the apparent hubbub about whether or not Chandler was a repressed homosexual. There were a couple scenes in 'The Long Goodbye' that talked about homosexuals (and not exactly in flattering terms), but I just read them as a sign of the times, 'Kinsey Report' and all that, with attendant backlash. Marlowe's relationship with Terry never came off to me as anything but platonic, he was a lonely guy who it seemed had finally made a friend. Reading the short stories, though, there are a few scenes between men or describing a man that come off as sexually loaded, especially the Odd Couple relationship between the slightly effete Walter Gage and the blue collar Henry in "Pearls are a Nuisance" and the opening shower and scuffle scenes of "Pick-up on Noon Street". Idle speculation? Oh yeah, but interesting in a gosspy way.

The first few stories like "Smart-Aleck Kill" and "Spanish Blood" have little to recommend them, but each one gets better than the last. The only later story that was a bummer was "Pearls" which was almost a sendup of the 'Thin Man' movies, but lacked any feeling despite jokes making fun of Gage for "talking the way Jane Austen writes".

What really makes these stories worth reading though, as collected here, is that the reader can really see how Chandler came into his own style of writing. By that I mean especially his similies that are his hallmark and seldom effectively imitated. There's some testing of the waters: "The back of my neck was as wet as a dog's nose", and some early triumphs in deadpan description: "She sighed, said, 'Goddamn,' in a casual voice and curled up on a davenport. It took all of the davenport. She had plenty of legs." That is pure fun to read. His plotting and technique improves as well, relying less and less on bodies and high-concept kills and more on atmosphere and realistic situations. The novels should be a lot of fun.

11/24/2011 - 'The Big Sleep': 3 Stars

Much along the same line as the stories, nice, but nothing special.

1/22/2012 - 'Farewell, My Lovely': 4 Stars

Great secondary characters fill out and surpass a familiar plot.

2/16/2012 - 'The High Window': 4 Stars

Nonsensical it may be, but Chandler's deadpan delivery sells it well.

I have enjoyed the hell out of Chandler's writing thus far, I've planned on saving 'Later Novels and Other Writings' for a later date and spreading the novels out, but I'm not sure if I'll be able to hold myself to it. ( )
1 rösta ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 18, 2019 |
PULP STORIES | read 2017-10

As expected, apart from plot and scenes of confrontation, the lasting impression is of Chandler describing American society and the violence and greed underpinning a zero-sum commercial culture. These are quick reads in that Chandler writes well and the action carries through from section to section, it's easy not to take a breath or try to get an angle on the whole tale. This is what the shamus, does, of course: figures the angles while distracting others with banter and tough talk. (I suspect partly this explains why the first person narrative works, the shamus is distracting the reader.) The literary contribution comes later, almost cinematically from a pan-out or dolly back, by reflecting on several stories collectively, and not so much within a given story. While reading, it's more about a circumstance and the characters caught in them, our protagonist typically wary and resigned.

The LOA's selection is a mix of stories in first & third person, gathering every story not later 'cannibalised' (Chandler's term) for a novel. Originally, Marlowe figured in none of these: only when preparing them for the collection The Simple Art of Murder did Chandler change the protagonist's name, and then not all were changed. (Some that were changed, got names other than Marlowe.) So Marlowe was not a distinct personality from the beginning, he evolved out of these stories and it's great to see the cast of characters from which he emerged.

In comparison, there's a much higher body count than in Macdonald. Chandler himself rues this aspect of his stories. Macdonald's stories come across more as concerned about individual identity and motivations, than about milieu. Undoubtedly I'm influenced by Macdonald's quote about Chandler coming up with scenes that are dramatic, rather than used to generate meaning, but the quote is apt: these are set pieces that show conflict and let personality surface, usually in that conflict. Personalities do not develop, here, they are highlighted, they show up as they are, the development is in revealing them (to readers, to other characters), but the stories end with everyone more or less the same personality they were at the beginning (apart from the fact that by the end many are, of course, dead).

The last story a fitting end to the collection: published originally in the Saturday Evening Post, it's appropriately distinct from those published in Black Mask, Detective Fiction Weekly, or Dime Detective. "I'll Be Waiting" already shows Chandler's apparent later disdain for all the murders in his early stories. This one has one murder but offstage, it will be interesting to see whether there is a similar step in evolution to the novels.

THE BIG SLEEP | read 2018-10

My first Chandler novel, practically impossible to suppress memories of the film screened multiple times. Similar to my PKD read, I embraced this approach, figuring the next novel would be relatively unencumbered. Screenplay for The Big Sleep appears to track fairly closely with Chandler's novel, though I don't recall from the film Carmen's actions at the novel's denouement: did the film end with Eddie only pretending Rusty ran off with his wife to throw off scent of his murder of Rusty? -- but why?

A barometer for me is the character of the shamus in these hardboiled stories, there's room for a range of "tough but good" heroes. Marlowe is "tall & handsome", 33 years of age and perhaps approximating the stereotypical B movie hunk. Still, there's considerable attention on the ethics of his profession: Marlowe has discussion with the General at end regarding ethics; also, Harry Jones held out by Marlowe as exemplar for ethical behavior. Marlowe does delay reporting a murder to further his investigation, but in this case is motivated to help his client, and not just solving the crime a la the Continental Op. Marlowe (at least, in this novel) falls somewhere between Archer and the Op on the hardboiled hero spectrum.

FAREWELL MY LOVELY | read 2018-10

After reading through Chandler's Marlowe shorts, FML feels familiar despite the larger canvas. Somewhat oddly, if anything Marlowe here is less likable than before: nasty, even, and his sidekick Riordan sees it yet still falls for him. The last chapters pointedly have her discuss with him how ridiculous it was that men would follow Velma around despite how she treats them and how selfish she is. Marlowe doesn't disagree; Riordan side-eyes Marlowe, then tells him he should kiss her. Charitably, readers could argue Chandler wants to smuggle in a message for the macho reader -- a spoonful of sugar, as it were. Somehow I don't think that's it. If this is the direction Chandler wants to take after concluding his earlier stories were unrealistic in having too high a body count, I'd argue he's simply swapping out one disagreeable trait for another and not becoming any more realistic for the change.

Dubious ethics are a trope in noir stories and a point of differentiation among authors.
● Like Macdonald did for Archer, a later case shows Marlowe working for free, but here he's clear that's because he's not had a proper job for a month. (And yet, he had one but failed to find the missing husband: why ignore that very real prospect for cash?)
● Marlowe isn't above pressuring Florian to collaborate with him, implying she's threatened (by Moose Malloy?) and will be helped if she cooperates, though Marlowe doesn't know anything specifically.
● Doesn't tell police everything about murder of Marriott, though latter was his client, and further holds back on Riordan's role.
● Marlowe repeatedly uses "nigger" and "pansy", but also chides Detective for acting as if killing a black man is "only a misdemeanor".
● Marlowe fools around with a client, pretty clear he has no intentions other than the one-night stand, even while flirting with Riordan (yet his internal dialogue reveals he may not be altogether fine with his own behaviour).

On balance, Marlowe in this story appears to veer toward the Continental Op's end of the moral spectrum, and away from Archer.

THE HIGH WINDOW | read 2020-03

As with the previous stories, Chandler's descriptions and similes are indeed enough to propel the reader along. I could not recall without prompting anything of the plot or characters just three months after finishing. (To be fair, I read the novel in under 24 hours so I wasn't "sitting" with the story for long, either.) The storytelling is reward enough, despite that, and probably worth revisiting.

Chandler suggests he attempts to move Marlowe beyond mere tough-guy justice and high body counts. Despite Mrs Murdock's distasteful personality, Marlowe waits to report a murder out of concern for client privacy (Chapter 14). Marlowe compels the police to consider the consequences of past injustice and corruption ("Cassidy Case", Chapter 15), Marlowe himself recognises racial and class abuse heaped on a bartender and evidently empathises sufficiently that he doesn't take personally when the black man vents his spleen (Chapter 17). More comically, there's a running gag with an elevator operator, but again with serious social commentary underlying it. And the body count is two, far fewer than even some of his short stories, and neither death is treated as a trivial matter.

On the other hand, the psychological currents with respect to Merle Davis's character is no better than most Hollywood treatments. It'll be interesting to see where Chandler goes in later novels.

Marlowe's patter continues to mislead as much as provide insight to the reader. Readers get the facts along with Marlowe, but seldom get Marlowe's take on them nor are we privy to his suspicions on how they might fit together. For that, we readers have to wait -- same as the client and police. ( )
1 rösta elenchus | Oct 23, 2017 |
Read Farewell, My Lovely. Suspenseful, but not always believable. If I were beat up the way Marlowe claims to have been I would spent days in the hospital. I'm disappointed that the Riordan character is sort of left hanging. Her entrance and role in the story seem very haphazard. Was surprised at the racism - even Marlowe uses pejorative terms. Very cynical view of cops, as well.
  FKarr | Feb 10, 2017 |
These three novels introduce us to Philip Marlowe, a private dick who carries a gun but never uses it. His weapon is his brain. Chandler's plots are cutesy, like a Moebius strip is. His writing is fluid; the dialogue so swift, that you will find yourself regularly re-reading passages for contextual clues. It doesn't help that the language is dated, somewhat indeterminately. He also makes extensive use of the simile, perhaps better than any other author I've read.

Chandler's work here is timeless, in that there are no dates. But the women are "dames" and the men are men, and the setting is L.A., sometime in the '40s or '50s. One has no trouble imagining this world. Chandler is no chauvinist, however. His female characters are strong, often wealthy, and inevitably powerful. Chandler's work here is interesting because he paints a very believeable picture of the unbridled sexual and social behavior that is part of the urban metropolis, and doesn't self-sensor.

Unlike today's action adventures, Marlowe is a moral gentleman, who has a clear sense of right and wrong. There is no gratuitious violence and the only instances of the "F" word are redacted by dashes. This does not detract from Chandler, and is rather refreshing. Chandler's characters are well-drawn, and his expository writing very good. Descriptions of hummingbirds and architectural features that go beyond the casual give is stories real texture. The descriptions of the manner in which people give a look, smoke a cigarette, take a drink are also completely three dimensional. The only potential problem with Chandler's stories is that his plots are a little bit contrived. If coincidental twists bother you then Chandler is probably not for you. ( )
1 rösta noah | Sep 9, 2010 |
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What fascinates and compels me most about Chandler in this #MeToo moment are the ways his novels speak to our current climate. Because if you want to understand toxic white masculinity, you could learn a lot by looking at noir.
tillagd av elenchus | ändraSlate.com, Megan Abbott (Jul 9, 2018)
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"Stories and Early Novels includes every story that Chandler did not later incorporate into a novel - thirteen in all. Drawn from the pages of Black Mask and Dime Detective, these stories show how Chandler adapted the violent conventions of the pulp magazines - with their brisk exposition and rapid-fire dialogue - to his own emerging vision of 20th-century America." "Raymond Chandler: Stories and Early Novels contains a newly researched chronology of Chandler's life, explanatory notes, and an essay on the texts."--BOOK JACKET.

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