But what really makes Chandler's stories hold up so well is the language: "The Dancers is the kind of club that will dissolution you about what a lot of extra golf money can do for the personality" or "What does it matter, if you're breathing wind and air or oil and water--when you're sleeping the big sleep."
While the plots are wonderful period pieces of a young Los Angeles, the characters are richly drawn. Ever wonder where all those tv detectives came from? Right here.
Chandler's short stories are also supurb. My vote for the single best detective short story of all time is Red Wind--there is so much that happens in such a short story. No one should ever die without reading it....."Trouble is my Business" is also excellent....
Is this a complete collection of his short stories? No--There are a few I would have added, even though several of them were "canibalized" (Chandler's phrase) into later novels. The plot of "Bay City Blues" was built into "Lady in the Lake," but I think that story still holds up on its own. An earlier review also mentioned that "The Pencil" is missing. I can't understand why it was left out. "Killer in the Rain" also became "The Big Sleep," but it still has charm. "No Crime in the Mountains" is not included, but that's not much of a loss.
Not all of the stories in this book work--but that's going to be true with any collection.Read more ›
Two of his three best novels are included here (The Big Sleep & Farewell, My Lovely).
The stories and great fun, if also rather flawed. My biggest complaint is that are presented here in their republished form, rather than with the original names of the protagonists. (For example, the hero of "Red Wind" is Philip Marlowe here, rather than John Dalmas.) That a fairly minor quibble. Especially good are "Goldfish" and "Red Wind."
The binding is very nice, as are all Library of America editions. My edition has held up quite well after heavy use.
This particular collection, rightly, combines Chandler's first three novels with the best of his earlier short stories, recognizing the thematic unity in those works. (Good as it is, "The Lady In The Lake" demands to be treated separately from Chandler's earlier efforts.)
Chances are, if you're reading this, you've read most, if not all, of Chandler's Phillip Marlowe novels. You may as well have read many, if not all, of the short stories presented here. But have you read these novels, and these short stories, TOGETHER in this context? Likely not. But you deserve to.
In the short stories, for example, there are protagonists named John Evans, Ted Carmody and Tony Resick (the last two of which, interestingly, inhabit locations which were most likely Los Angeles' Hotel Mayfair, with which Chandler had more than a nodding familiarity). And when, in Chandler's writings, did they meld themselves into what would be his penultimate creation, Phillip Marlowe?
And at which point did Chandler begin to write, as fellow writer Ross McDonald termed it, "like a slumming angel . . ."? The answers to both questions may well lie here, in this collection.
Pick up this collection! Read it! Discover the material anew!