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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The real deal.,
This review is from: Collected Stories (Hardcover)I was dubious. Not of the quality of Chandler's writings, but of the veracity of this book's claim to collect ALL of his short fiction. But it does. From Blackmailers Don't Shoot to The Pencil, with everything in between, this has them all. This also includes three that are available nowhere else: Professor Bingo's Snuff, The Bronze Door and English Summer. These last three really do not really qualify as pulpy mysteries (or even as typical Chandler, although his imprint in them is still distinct), but I had been seeking them for a while and bought the book for them alone anyway. And because, well, Chandler could write a grocery list and I'd buy it to read. He's that good.
For those who already know Chandler, that will not come as any surprise. He took up the torch which Hammett lit, toward making detective fiction respectable literature. And no one outside of Hemingway has been more influential or distinctive, in any style, anywhere, ever. And no one has ever been more entertaining. Chandler wrote in an extremely visceral, visual, atmospheric way, and made the language sit up, salute and perform pirouettes. His cynical California Gothic prose defined postwar America and combined intelligentsia with slang and squalor with romanticism into a new form that has not been exceeded. I could ramble on indefinitely, but I hope this paragraph has been some small yet clear indication of the fact that I happen to like Raymond Chandler's writing.
The three previously unpublished stories were treats, to see Chandler working in ways I was unaccustomed to. One was even subtitled 'A Gothic Romance'; that made me a little nervous, but is only a romance in the sense that The Big Sleep is a romance. All three deal with murder- one at a quaint but decaying English manor, one via a magical door to nowhere, and one by an invisible man. You read that last part correctly. Chandler delves into fantasy in these pages; and I was delighted. But for those of you passionately inclined to LA noir, don't worry: as unconventional as these stories are, they still retain most of the basic elements found in his other crime stories.
In Chandler's first Black Mask story, Blackmailers Don't Shoot, his style was present, but it was somewhat forced and imitative; he wore the attitude like a coat, keeping it a separate and distant thing. By just a couple of stories later, the attitude had become a second skin. Chandler had cemented his voice and begun to truly inhabit the world of his creations. Thereby we too are liberated, and transported, into his rich, dark, slinky and dangerous territory. By the late 30's everything was in place: atmosphere, language, attitude, et al. Raymond Chandler was combining (cannibalizing, he called it) two of the stories in this volume with new material to become his first and most famous novel, The Big Sleep. And we can all be thankful for that.
But it begins here. Some of these stories don't use the ingenious metaphors he later became renowned for, some are overly confusing, some aren't even great mysteries. (Chandler himself would tell you he was not the best plotter, giving that acclaim to Woolrich, but plots were secondary to Chandler anyway.) Still, these are all great stories, of the coolest era in history and of the last great rugged individualist. In some stories he is called Dalmas. In some Carmady. In some he is no one in particular. And yet they are all his lasting creation Marlowe under the surface, all *Chandler* himself in fact, using the crime story form to express his own philosophies of life. While never failing to blow your socks off with his skill.
For those who don't know Chandler this may not be the place to start. For that I recommend Farewell, My Lovely or The Little Sister, both among Chandler's most atmospheric and funny novels. But I do recommend starting down these mean streets which Marlowe himself prowled. You will (or should) become hooked, and may eventually wind up back at this collection anyway, where you can see the writer- and his characters- develop, and see grains of the novels his stories would become.
If you have never read Chandler before, you have a vast world newly open to you. Lucky you.
If you have read him before, welcome back. Curl up and stay awhile.
P.S. The introduction to this volume breaks no new ground. Don't get me wrong, it's OK. But this is An Historic Publishing Event, so I was expecting something a little more official and substantive. A small gripe.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It is About Time!,
This review is from: Collected Stories (Hardcover)This is the one to buy, it has virtually everything. It almost makes me mad that it is finally here because of all I had to go through to find the missing pieces not offered in the scandalously misleading Library of America collection. "Raymond Chandler Speaking" has the one missing story and it is easily obtainable, although otherwise useless. Buy the entire set from the new Everyman's Library, it is comparable in price to the LOA set and this set delivers what it promises.
5.0 out of 5 stars A must buy!,
This review is from: Collected Stories (Hardcover)As my title states this is a nust buy. Enjoy it slowly, one story ay a time. You will not be sorry. Consider purchasing the two collections of his novels also from Everyman's Library.
5.0 out of 5 stars Addendum for completists (like me)...,
This review is from: Collected Stories (Hardcover)Strictly speaking, there is one short story of Raymond Chandler's that this volume does not include: A Couple of Writers.
But it is not a *crime* story, may have had a few autobiographical elements, and went unpublished for a long time. So this book's claim could, I suppose, still be seen as valid.
If you're curious about this last story (it is a straight dramatic piece about a novelist and a playwrite, and their marriage on the rocks), you may find it in the otherwise thoroughly unnecessary book entitled Raymond Chandler Speaking.
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic,
This review is from: Collected Stories (Hardcover)Yes, this collection of the Raymond Chandler pulp stories is
one of the most classic and historic possible in this whole
division of literature. And we can call it "literature" because
Although Hammett made an early contribution, he so quickly
burned out, devoured by alcoholism and his unfathomable romance
with Communism, that his effective writings ended rather quickly.
But Chandler worked his magic over many years, and although
his output was slim in volume, he continued to glow over a long
period of time.
And his start was here in these pulp contributions. His very
first writings seem a little stilted now, but they are still
Chandler, and we can see the beginnings of his great prose.
Shortly into his short-story writing, his style becomes pure
Chandler, and it is recognizable by any mystery reader.
Chandler always easily admitted that his great novels were
put together from some of these early stories, and, as such,
they shouldn't be missed by any mystery reader.
His use of metaphore is not to be missed, and the reader will
encounter those throughout his work; the use of language in
these stories is like the use of musical notes by a master
classical violinist--until you encounter them, you wouldn't have
believed such combinations possible. Most readers will find
pleasure in going back and re-reading favorite phrases; they
will have to be savored.
This collection is complete, and it's one that will give pleasure for a long time. Grab it now.
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Collected Stories by Raymond Chandler (Hardcover - Oct 15 2002)
CDN$ 35.00 CDN$ 21.95