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Nov 10, 2015
| ISBN 9780804170482
Dec 02, 2014
| ISBN 9780385352376
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Nov 10, 2015 | ISBN 9780804170482
Dec 02, 2014 | ISBN 9780385352376
The World of Raymond Chandler shows how Chandler precariously balanced the values of a classical English education against those of a fast-evolving America during the years before the Great War; how he adopted Los Angeles as his home after WWI, with Hollywood in turn adopting him (and adapting his works); how his detective hero and alter ego Philip Marlowe evolved over the years; and, above all, what it is to be a writer, and in particular one writing in the “other language” of hardboiled fiction. Acclaimed biographer and historian Barry Day deftly interweaves images and text, using quotations from Chandler’s novels, short stories, letters, and interviews, to craft a unique portrait of the mystery writer’s life and times.
Raymond Chandler never wrote a memoir or autobiography. The closest he came to writing either was in—and around—his novels, shorts stories, and letters. There have been books that describe and evaluate Chandler’s life, but to find out what he himself felt about his life and work, Barry Day, editor of The Letters of Noël Coward (“There is much to dazzle here in just the way we expect . . . the book is meticulous, artfully structured—splendid” —Daniel Mendelsohn; The New York Review of Books), has cannily, deftly chosen from Chandler’s writing, as well as the many interviews he gave over the years as he achieved cult status, to weave together an illuminating narrative that reveals the man, the work, the worlds he created.Using Chandler’s own words as well as Day’s text, here is the life of “the man with no home,” a man precariously balanced between his classical English education with its immutable values and that of a fast-evolving America during the years before the Great War, and the changing vernacular of the cultural psyche that resulted. Chandler makes clear what it is to be a writer, and in particular what it is to be a writer of “hardboiled” fiction in what was for him “another language.” Along the way, he discusses the work of his contemporaries: Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Agatha Christie, W. Somerset Maugham, and others (“I wish,” said Chandler, “I had one of those facile plotting brains, like Erle Gardner”).Here is Chandler’s Los Angeles (“There is a touch of the desert about everything in California,” he said, “and about the minds of the people who live here”), a city he adopted and that adopted him in the post-World War I period . . . Here is his Hollywood (“Anyone who doesn’t like Hollywood,” he said, “is either crazy or sober”) . . . He recounts his own (rocky) experiences working in the town with Billy Wilder, Howard Hawks, Alfred Hitchcock, and others. . .We see Chandler’s alter ego, Philip Marlowe, private eye, the incorruptible knight with little armor who walks the “mean streets” in a world not made for knights (“If I had ever an opportunity of selecting the movie actor who would best represent Marlowe to my mind, I think it would have been Cary Grant.”) . . . Here is Chandler on drinking (his life in the end was in a race with alcohol—and loneliness) . . . and here are Chandler’s women—the Little Sisters, the “dames” in his fiction, and in his life (on writing The Long Goodbye, Chandler said, “I watched my wife die by half inches and I wrote the best book in my agony of that knowledge . . . I was as hollow as the places between the stars.” After her death Chandler led what he called a “posthumous life” writing fiction, but more often than not, his writing life was made up of letters written to women he barely knew.)Interwoven throughout the text are more than one hundred pictures that reveal the psyche and world of Raymond Chandler. “I have lived my whole life on the edge of nothing,” he wrote. In his own words, and with Barry Day’s commentary, we see the shape this took and the way it informed the man and his extraordinary work.
Raymond Thornton Chandler (1888 -1959) was the master practitioner of American hard-boiled crime fiction. Although he was born in Chicago, Chandler spent most of his boyhood and youth in England where he attended Dulwich College and later worked as a… More about Raymond Chandler
“Terrific . . . Day allows Chandler to elucidate [his] vision himself. He was a penetrating, thwarted, breathtakingly intelligent person.”—The New York Times Book Review“A fresh new opportunity to savor the melancholy magic of a private eye so often found sitting alone in his small Hollywood office.” —The Wall Street Journal “Barry Day stretches Chandler’s limber language like a skein across the skeleton of his life, knitting in the spaces in between with his own editorial commentary. . . . Even the greenest Chandler novice may find much here that tantalizes.” —The New York Times “A tour of Chandler’s sinister, neon-lit world. . . . A splendid complement of the literary to the visual. . . . Essential for any Chandler aficionado.” —St. Louis Post-Dispatch“A remarkable book. . . . A fascinating and convincing portrait of a writer who, using the material of his own life and his convictions, refined pulp into literature. More than any biography I’ve read, this book stirred in me a new sympathy for Chandler to match the admiration I’ve always felt.” —Dean Koontz, bestselling author of What the Night Knows “A solid introduction to Chandler’s work. It includes some fine stuff you won’t find in other bios and illuminates Chandler’s life and times ‘like a swung curtain of crystal beads’.” —The Boston Globe “Will equally satisfy his fans and readers unfamiliar with the noir master.” —Shelf Awareness “I enjoyed every page. I’ve had a collection of Chandler stories waiting unread on my shelf for years and years (The Simple Art of Murder). Barry Day’s The World of Raymond Chandler has prompted me to pull it down and place it at the top of my queue. I can’t think of any higher praise.” —Scott Smith, author of A Simple Plan “Barry Day’s book is a welcome reminder of just what a great writer Raymond Chandler was, and also illuminates his life—Who knew he went to an English public school?—and the whole phenomenon of Los Angeles, and the way then and now the sleazy and the corrupt live cheek by jowl with the rich and glamorous. A pleasure to read!” —Michael Korda, author of Hero and Clouds of Glory
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