The World of Raymond Chandler: In His Own Words

Edited by Barry Day. Knopf, $27.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-385-35236-9
As he did previously with the work of Noel Coward, P.G. Wodehouse, and Dorothy Parker, editor Day has assembled the letters and published writings of Raymond Chandler to create not a biography, but a portrait of the writer “in his own words.” While the volume mentions Chandler’s education, life prior to becoming a writer, and wife Cissy (18 years his senior), the focus here is on Philip Marlowe, Los Angeles and Hollywood, and writing. Day includes some juicy tidbits from Chandler’s letters about Hemingway and Veronica “Moronica” Lake, and from the writer’s experiences with Hollywood productions like The Big Sleep, Double Indemnity, and Strangers on a Train. However, most of the book consists of Chandler’s quotes on a host of topics ranging from smoking to cracking wise to cops. Day also gives an inventory of Chandler’s hard-boiled argot and famously ornate similes, and explores minutiae, such as the evolution of Marlowe’s office decor over the course of the novels featuring him. This encyclopedic mastery of Chandler’s work is impressive in small doses, but becomes tedious taken as a whole. When Chandler’s letters are being quoted, though, on anything from the philosophy of a private eye “earning a meager living in a corrupt world” to trends in Los Angeles architecture, the book sparkles. 115 illus. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 08/11/2014
Release date: 11/11/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 263 pages - 978-0-385-35237-6
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-8041-7048-2
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