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Chandler: Later Novels & Other Writing [Hardcover]

Raymond Chandler
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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From Amazon

Raymond Chandler is arguably the best American pulp novelist. His prose is so acutely visual, his characters so raw and intense that it is small wonder that all but one of his books have been made into movies. And his hero Philip Marlowe has graduated into American legend. Together with its companion volume (Stories and Early Novels), Later Novels and Other Writings forms the most complete Chandler collection in print. In addition to his later novels, this collection contains selected essays and letters, biographical information, and textual as well as explanatory notes. As an added bonus, the editor has included Chandler's screenplay to Double Indemnity, the classic Billy Wilder film adapted from James M. Cain's novel. You're able to compare the script to the finished movie and have the rare opportunity to see how one major crime novelist altered and interpreted another.

From Library Journal

These additions to the venerable series make official what mystery fans have always known: Raymond Chandler is one of the gods of American literature. Following the trail blazed by Dashiell Hammett, Chandler created Philip Marlowe and set the standard against which all private detective fiction is measured. This two-volume set covers the full canon of Chandler's work from early pulp stories to all the Marlowe novels, the screenplay for Double Indemnity, and essays on the mystery genre plus the usual Library of America goodies such as notes on the text and a chronology of the author's life. In terms of literary inventions, the Wild West cowboy and the hard-boiled P.I. are this country's only true native sons and are deserving of respect. One of them at least now has it.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
Format:Hardcover
This volume is bursting at the seams with Chandler's writings and it is an astonishing value even at the retail price. It even comes wrapped in plastic!!! Alas I do have one complaint, you can buy Double Indemnity on it's own in a seperate volume that is very much in print. The editors at LOA must be aware of this. If so, they must also be aware that "The Blue Dahlia" is no longer in print and has not been since 1976. Wouldn't it have made more since to eliminate "Double Indemnity" since it is readily available in another volume and replace it with "Blue Dahlia"? Couldn't an argument be made that in addition to it's scarcity "The Blue Dahlia" is also a better representation of Chandler's screenwriting talent because it his only produced solo effort and the fact that it garnered him an Oscar nomination?
Bottom line: LOA has redeemed itself for it's blatant lies on the Dust Jacket of "Stories and Early Novels" (see my review "Incomplete and Misleading")By the way, no one has ever explained why they neglected to include Chandler's last complete Marlowe story, "The Pencil".
I will be writing other reviews of Chandler collections undwe the clever title of "The Simple Art of Editing" and let me assure you that they do not hold up as well as this LOA masterpiece.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent binding, excellent content May 20 2000
By Ash
Format:Hardcover
Contained in this volume are the last four (of seven) Marlowe novels, the Double Indemnity script co-written with Billy Wilder (including lines that were cut), his famous essay on "The Simple Art of Murder", one on "Writers in Hollywood", another titled "Twelve Notes on the Mystery Story", and finally "Notes (very brief, please) on English and American Style". Couple these with thoroughly entertaining and sometimes revealing letters to friends and fans, and you can't miss.
In one of these letters he even discusses fellow hardboiled writer Ross Macdonald's (here called John, as he hadn't changed his name yet) The Moving Target, which cribbed some ideas from The Big Sleep and Dashiell Hammett's The Thin Man.
The novels themselves? Classic Chandler - enough said. If you'd like to know why you should expect the best in hardboiled detective fiction, well, read 'em all, or at least one. (If you're planning on that course of action, try the first in the series, The Big Sleep, included in a similar volume called Stories and Early Novels: Pulp Stories/The Big Sleep/Farewell, My Lovely/The High Window.)
Bottom line, this is required reading for anyone who won't read just anything but at the same time doesn't limit themself to Anna Karenina.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  24 reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic American, cynical detective stories. May 11 2005
By Mark E. Baxter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Chandler is arguably the best detective story writer out there. If you expand this genre to all mystery writers, he would still be one of the best.

Detective stories aren't as common as they once were, but if you look at the offspring of the Pulp magazine once so popular, television, they are still as popular as ever. Chandler was one author who defined what a detective story was. This book contains four novels:The Lady in the Lake, The Little Sister, The Long Goodbye, and Playback. These are wonderfully entertaining stories that contain the archetypical hard-bitten detective, Philip Marlowe. After reading these stories you will forever see Marlowe in every detective story you see or read, from Magnum to the latest TV cop. How can you not love an author who sums up Modern American Capitalism with lines like these? "We make the finest packages in the world, Mr. Marlowe. The stuff inside is mostly junk." Or an author who in the early 50's, (50 years before the current 'Queers Dress Up' shows) so presciently wrote, "The queer is the artistic arbiter of our age, chum." Or his comment on a speech by a politician, "He did not bore us with any facts."

These books are not just riveting, fun reading, but full of thoughtful quotes like the above.

Chandler also is must-reading for his understanding of criminality, venality, human nature, Southern California, Movies, American culture and American relationship dynamics. I hate to use the word "classic" to describe stories that are just so plain fun to read, but I find it hard not to.

This volume also contains a screenplay, Double Indemnity, and a few essays and letters. The essays "The Simple Art of Murder", and "Writers in Hollywood" should be required reading for anyone interested in 20th century culture, movies, and literature. Just a few tidbits more. Chandler on English Mystery Writers - "The English may not always be the best writers in the world, but they are incomparably the best dull writers." Chandler on boredom - "There are no dull subjects, only dull minds." Chandler on critics - "The average critic never recognizes an achievement when it happens. He explains it after it has become respectable."

My only criticism is that the plots are contrived and sometimes complicated. But such criticism is like complaining that the Mona Lisa would be a fine painting if only it were of a different size.

Chandler is simply wonderful, funny, cynical, and yes, - respectable.
34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent binding, excellent content May 20 2000
By Ash - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Contained in this volume are the last four (of seven) Marlowe novels, the Double Indemnity script co-written with Billy Wilder (including lines that were cut), his famous essay on "The Simple Art of Murder", one on "Writers in Hollywood", another titled "Twelve Notes on the Mystery Story", and finally "Notes (very brief, please) on English and American Style". Couple these with thoroughly entertaining and sometimes revealing letters to friends and fans, and you can't miss.
In one of these letters he even discusses fellow hardboiled writer Ross Macdonald's (here called John, as he hadn't changed his name yet) The Moving Target, which cribbed some ideas from The Big Sleep and Dashiell Hammett's The Thin Man.
The novels themselves? Classic Chandler - enough said. If you'd like to know why you should expect the best in hardboiled detective fiction, well, read 'em all, or at least one. (If you're planning on that course of action, try the first in the series, The Big Sleep, included in a similar volume called Stories and Early Novels: Pulp Stories/The Big Sleep/Farewell, My Lovely/The High Window.)
Bottom line, this is required reading for anyone who won't read just anything but at the same time doesn't limit themself to Anna Karenina.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding in so many ways Feb. 23 2007
By RaDadIndy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
First, let me say that there's a separate volume of Chandler's early novels. As much as I liked this volume, I actually enjoyed the earlier novels just a little bit more and suggest starting there. I started reading one story and wound up going through all of them in both volumes in the space of a few months. I also wound up reading and enjoying all the Dashiell Hammett stories, but I give Chandler a slight edge.

I won't try to list all the ways these novels are great and entertaining, but here's one thought that hasn't been mentioned in other reviews. Chandler is excellent at presenting a hero-character who has to worry about money and making a living. Indeed, Chandler makes this issue integral to the character's persona and to the plot line. Yes, the books are escapist in so many ways. Yet, in this respect at least, they are far more realistic than almost all of the fiction, and much of the non-fiction, these days.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Priceless Solely for The Simple Art of Murder Jan. 18 2005
By Gregory McMahan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
While Hammett may very well have carried the modern hard-boiled mystery forward into the light, Chandler defined it. Of the two, I think I prefer Chandler most. Chandler better than anyone else set the standard for the genre, and laid down the rules to which all the great mystery writers of today rigorously adhere. Here, in brief, is the mystery writer's credo:

'But down these mean streets must a man go who himself is neither tarnished nor afraid.'

As Chandler remarked in his classic essay, The Simple Art of Murder, Hammett rightly deserves the title of Founder of the modern mystery because he succeeded in giving murder back to the kind of people who commit it. So what kind of person goes up against the kind of people who committ murder? Chandler responds with Exhibit A: Philip Marlowe.

Chandler's Marlowe resonates in my favorite mystery romps, the Spenser series, and the archetype also finds its way into more than a few 'Good Cop' dramas.

I enjoy the escapades of Philip Marlowe simply because the wry cynicism, coupled with the tough moral fibre to get to the bottom of any affair and see justice (or at least some sort of closure) served, makes for truly fascinating escapist reading. Each of the books in this collection, as in the collection preceding it, amply deliver on this score.

If you happen to acquire this masterpiece, never let it go. These are classic books, and will never become dated. I personally prefer The Long Goodbye to The Big Sleep, and found the former a longer and more satisfying read. In every story of both collections, there is to be found a depraved tapestry of gilded greater Los Angeles society, quite literally ripped from the headline news of the day. Most mystery fans will love the idea of an honest man in a thoroughly dishonest world, on a righteous quest for justice.

Once you get this triumph of American literature in your hands, mix your favorite drink, disappear to a quiet place with a comfortable chair (with good lighting), and enjoy the Great Master at work. If only more writers could write like this, then I would not need cable TV...
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sidewalk by the Sea May 28 2009
By Strawgold - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I started reading the older novels for a baseline comparison with what I read today. It's also more fun to review a book that doesn't already have hundreds of other reviews - simply in order to avoid repeating. I have a variety of interests but detective novels (well written) have always appealed to me because so much human nature was involved. Even what was supposed to be "Fiction" likely turns up as "Truth in Exercise" somewhere along the line - crime and ingenuity are constant companions and the best of the novelists turn that to distinct advantage when striving to entertain us with their own concept of it.

Take Raymond Chandler. Even though he is out of the past, Mr. Chandler is a "must read" if you enjoy detective tales, written, detailed, enhanced to the 9th degree with excellent exchange of dialogue that never misses a beat or a connection to his plot. He "sculpts" his story - not only of the face of the detective, but of the out-of-the ordinary characters that detective, Phillip Marlowe, meets along the way as well. Marlowe himself is a tarnished hero, but his Chandler-Given basic instinct in his own integrity give us hope as we read; there are a few left to be counted on even through the human frailties. He even throws in a casually undertaken, but carefully worded sex scene or two now and again for heat. A sign of his times emerge in the way the the sex scenes are delivered, but they are quite effective in their undertaking, nonetheless. Maybe that will continue to be "part of the charm" of the older books; their "stern and structured" editors served to make them clever rather than graphic in their technique. (Perhaps I should hasten to add that I don't see anything wrong with literary license of today's more graphic scenes, either. A good book is a good book in any era).

They are all excellent but in the interests of length, I am focusing on "Play Back" in this review solely because one unexpected scenario really captured my imagination. In "Play Back", a sudden, unexpected burst of independent thought occurs in an exclusive hotel lobby with an old man - a character on the side - who somehow comes front and center even though he has not played much of a part in the whole up to that point - who was one of the "chosen few", born wealthy, built to stay that way, and had nothing more to do but keenly observe the foibles of the others around him, of which he became extraordinarly fine-tuned. It is finesse - the element that sets certain writers apart from the others - and which I have noticed present throughout the books by Chandler I have read; is a remarkable set of ideas the old man in the lobby bounces off the taciturn Marlowe, who is more interested in the immediate whereabouts of an individual he is purusing than in the interesting conversation of a man past his own time.

The story starts, of course, with the detective, Marlowe, being hired through an attorney, which gives him "privilege" to operate through many jurisdictions and precincts of law enforcement as he begins to place the pieces of the puzzle. The attorney is acting as go-between for someone else who wishes the protection of client confidentiality. Marlowe is hired to find a specific girl on the run whose identity has changed - but is offered little else in the way of firm details to go on, which continually prompt him to wonder if she is being located or simply stalked with intent to harm. The girl herself is an unaccountable enigma; part vamp, part sensible but vulnerable, part criminal element within which she exposes and switches off and on as he encounters her. She is the unwilling but unapologetic reason behind several "train wrecks" along the way, which Marlowe considers just part of his day's work; and money never motivates him. He is immune to the lure of the green and therefore is his own man at all times, finding the truth becomes much easier for him because the haze is absent from his eyes.

Chandler's books are carefully contrived intrigue waiting for the reader who wants more than a dime novel delivered with their action. And "Library of America" is a true and worthy champion of literary causes - a refusal to allow the best to die simply because time passes.
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