- Hardcover: 1336 pages
- Publisher: Everyman's Library; X-Library edition (Oct. 15 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0375415009
- ISBN-13: 978-0375415005
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 5.8 x 21.1 cm
- Shipping Weight: 1 Kg
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #239,368 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Collected Stories Hardcover – Oct 15 2002
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From Library Journal
It was a big year for Chandler: not only did Knopf release his full canon in this hardcover trio, which includes some long-out-of-print stories, but Vintage also released a new set of paperbacks (LJ 7/02) of all his books. (LJ 9/15/02)
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
*Starred Review* "The front of her dress was a sudden welter of blood. Her eyes opened and shut, opened and stayed open." That sentence, from Raymond Chandler's 1935 story "Spanish Blood," says volumes about the history of mystery fiction. Death was mostly an offstage plot device in the works of Agatha Christie and other English authors during the so-called Golden Age of the detective story; American pulp writers made guns and blood their stock-in-trade, but most of them knew little about style, and their work didn't circulate much beyond bus stations and drugstores. Then Chandler, getting his start in those same pulps, began using phrases such as "sudden welter of blood," and it was only a matter of time before the literary world took notice. This landmark collection, gargantuan in both size and significance, brings together for the first time all of Chandler's short fiction, the raw material from which he later fashioned all his celebrated novels, from The Big Sleep through The Long Goodbye. Part of the fascination in reading these seminal tales is to encounter bits and pieces of the novels turning up in all sorts of places: the fabled opening scene of The Big Sleep, Marlowe with General Sternwood in the greenhouse, takes place in one story, while the later scene involving Sternwood's thumb-sucking daughter, Carmen, and her adventures with a pornographer becomes the centerpiece in an entirely different story. To read these 25 stories, 22 of which were originally published in the 1930s, consecutively is to watch Chandler's craft develop: the move from third to first person; the fascination with atmosphere and mood; the outrageous similes; the liberating focus on his detective's thoughts and feelings; and, of course, the relish with which he describes violence and death, utterly realistic yet flamboyantly stylized. And, yet, one can also see Chandler chomping at the bit of the short form, the plot demands of the mystery formula keeping him from his real interests: character and place. Only Chandler fanatics will want to read every word of this encyclopedic volume, but anyone with any interest in the history of hard-boiled fiction should sample its groundbreaking wares. A major publishing event. Bill Ott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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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.
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.
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