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4.0 out of 5 stars Collection of Chandler pastiches is uneven
Raymond Chandler and Philip Marlowe are the beginning of modern detective fiction, along with Hammett and Spade. Chandler was a preeminent stylist who wrote his way into American letters by helping to create a genre, the private eye novel. He cut his teeth writing short stories for pulps in the twenties and thirties, so it's appropriate that this collection highlights...
Published on Jan. 29 2003 by David W. Nicholas

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2.0 out of 5 stars The Long Let-Down
This was an exceedingly disappointing book. The stories were almost all adequately written but few of them did justice to Chandler's creation. Stuart Kaminsky and Max Allan Collins, as well as a couple of others, turn in admirable efforts. One star of my rating is for them. The other star is for Chandler's story 'The Pencil' alone.
It is fine that the authors speak...
Published on Aug. 8 2001 by Andrew R. Oerman


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4.0 out of 5 stars Collection of Chandler pastiches is uneven, Jan. 29 2003
By 
David W. Nicholas (Van Nuys, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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Raymond Chandler and Philip Marlowe are the beginning of modern detective fiction, along with Hammett and Spade. Chandler was a preeminent stylist who wrote his way into American letters by helping to create a genre, the private eye novel. He cut his teeth writing short stories for pulps in the twenties and thirties, so it's appropriate that this collection highlights short stories. The stories were written by contemporary authors; the idea was to have them write stories with Marlowe as the main character, covering the period in which Marlowe figured in short stories that Chandler wrote. There is one story per year, with several on the back end of the collection that don't carry an exact date, and one story ("The Pencil") written by Chandler himself, late in life, to round things out.
The collection is, of course, uneven. Most of the writers more or less produce Chandler-like prose and characters, but some of the plots are distinctly unlike the great one. The collection starts off on the right foot with a Max Allan Collins story which is very good, and in the Collins mold. It's a historical mystery revolving around a thin pastiche of an old Hollywood mystery: who killed actress Thelma Todd? The rest of the stories are written by such leading lights as Robert Crais, Sara Paretsky, and Loren D. Estleman. They're rounded out by stories from such also-rans and where-are-they-nows as Benjamin Schutz, Francis Nevins Jr., Jonathan Valin, and Jeremiah Healy. I don't want to give the impression that I don't like any of the latter collection of writers (I particularly enjoyed Schutz), but they can hardly be called contemporaries, given that they haven't written in years.
I did enjoy the collection of stories, and I enjoyed the premise of the collection itself. I found the stories uneven. Some of them are very good, but some are overly cute. Two feature Chandler as a character, interacting with Marlowe. In one of those, he also butts heads with Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss), who's only there, apparently, because he's Dr. Seuss. It's all a bit much. However, I overall enjoyed the collection, and would recommend it.
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2.0 out of 5 stars The Long Let-Down, Aug. 8 2001
By 
Andrew R. Oerman "Andy Oerman" (Omaha, NE United States) - See all my reviews
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This was an exceedingly disappointing book. The stories were almost all adequately written but few of them did justice to Chandler's creation. Stuart Kaminsky and Max Allan Collins, as well as a couple of others, turn in admirable efforts. One star of my rating is for them. The other star is for Chandler's story 'The Pencil' alone.
It is fine that the authors speak in their own voice; who, after all, could truly duplicate Chandler's awesome prose? Yet they not only fail to match his skill, they fail to match his intent. Too often in this collection, Marlowe is bastardized for the sake of the author's political leanings, to advance a cause.
Marlowe was a hero in spite of himself, a champion of the lower classes, one with probable leftward leanings. (Chandler had acquired a refined dislike, or at least mistrust, of the upper crust during his formative years in England.) But as Marlowe prowled the mean streets righting wrongs, seeing that justice was done when the law would not quite do it, Chandler never allowed himself to preach. And that is what a couple of these stories do. It was a testament to Chandler's supreme skill that he could be such a strong voice for counterculture and yet ultimately fight to keep some type of moral status quo in gray circumstances.
Authors paying tribute to Dickens would not portray Tiny Tim as walking into a bank, speechifying on the plight of the poor and beating the rich old moneychangers on their heads with his crutch. And authors paying tribute to Chandler should not have had him doing many of the pettily pointed things he was doing in this book. Does anyone really think Marlowe would punch someone connected with the HUAC and sanctimoniously call him an a******? There are other similar forays into homiletic demagoguery. They are hollow, totally out of place, and out of character. Marlowe didn't operate that way, and it cheapens an icon to act as though he did.
Interestingly, and not surprisingly, those authors who fudged with the legacy the most were also those who said in their brief comments that they were the least influenced by Chandler. Why include them?
Check it out from your local library, read it, and return it; it's not worth purchasing.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read for Chandler fans, July 30 2000
One of noir's greatest characters handled by the writers influenced by his creator. An great idea to celebrate the centennial, but a bit uneven in my opinion. This can hardly be avoided when so many hands are in the pot, but a majority of the stories are well-written, and it's a plesant surprise when other Chandler characters make cameos. The year by year treatment of Marlowe was another good take, but again, due to the varied styles of the writers, development of the character is not a priority. Good book, great for fans, but I'd suggest sticking to the original.
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5.0 out of 5 stars this is such a cool book! 0ver 20 new marlowe stories, Nov. 1 1999
By A Customer
wow--everybody from robert crais to sara paretsky doing philip marlowe. the standards are high--and the book is structured largely in chronolgical order so that marlowe actually ages as you read the book. chandler's pothumous collaborator, robert b. parker has an introduction
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Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe: A Centennial Celebration
Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe: A Centennial Celebration by Raymond Chandler (Hardcover - Oct. 12 1988)
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