The Big Sleep & Farewell, My Lovely (Modern Library)

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3 thoughts on “The Big Sleep & Farewell, My Lovely (Modern Library)

  1. 16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    The best place to start if you’re a Chandler novice, January 13, 2003
    By 
    Continental Op “philmarlowe39″ (San Clemente, CA USA) –

    This review is from: The Big Sleep & Farewell, My Lovely (Modern Library) (Hardcover)

    Seeing as how “The Big Sleep” and “Farewell, My Lovely” are the first two Philip Marlowe detective novels that Raymond Chandler wrote (published in 1939 and 1940, respectively), this is a grand place for a Chandler novice to begin pursuing the morally decrepit alleys and boulevards of the rich and not-so-rich in Los Angeles.

    One thing you should note is that Chandler held the conventional detective stories (think: Agatha Christie) in disdain. Ergo, any attempt of mine to barf back the plots to you is a waste of time. They are so complex that you often forget exactly what happened shortly after you finish reading the books themselves…which doesn’t detract from their quality whatsoever mind you. It’s been told often enough that after their publication, Chandler often didn’t even know what was going on in his own novels!

    Suffice to say that both books concern murder among the wealthy elites in L.A. during Chandler’s life–a time when the city was a lot smaller than its present size, and more hostile to outsiders–particularly to people of color. “The Big Sleep” concerns a disappearance and a reclusive millionaire and his two daughters (one is a mentally deranged nymphomaniac; the other is a bit more sensible, but no less shady) and the lengths he’ll go to protect them. While this isn’t the best Marlowe novel, this is probably the best place to start. Plus, it got made into a pretty good movie starring Bogie and Bacall.

    “Farewell, My Lovely” is perhaps the most politically incorrect of the Marlowe books. It starts off with a murder at a bar in South Central L.A. and extends its tentacles into jewel heists and gambling rings where it is difficult to ascertain exactly who is doing what to whom. In Chandler’s L.A., nothing is what it seems.

    The story itself is engrossing, however, you must prepare yourself for Marlowe dropping the “N” word at least once, and his mockery of an American Indian for speaking in pidgeon English. Remember that this was 1940 and was 25 years before the Watts riots began to put an end to the white-dominated old boys network that used to rule L.A. That in itself makes it an interesting look at the mentality of the powers at be (the wealthy, the LAPD) and see how much has changed since Chandler’s day…and how much hasn’t.

    My personal favorite of Chandler’s books is “The Long Goodbye”–the second-to-last Marlowe novel that was published in 1954. I would rank both of these books below that one, but “Farewell, My Lovely” is a close second, while “The Big Sleep” is an auspicious debut for the hard-boiled, cynical, yet romantic …

    For those who are willing to take more than a passive interest in the works of Raymond Chandler, this two-book set is an excellent place to start. Furthermore, for those who are merely casual Chandler fans, this set is great because these two books are among his best (and it looks nice on your bookshelf too!)

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  2. 6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Not just a mystery writer…., November 4, 1998
    By 
    johnglor94 “johnglor94″ (Hamden, CT USA) –

    This review is from: The Big Sleep & Farewell, My Lovely (Modern Library) (Hardcover)

    Raymond Chandler was not just a mystery writer, but a keen observer of the human condition. In this edition, two of his Philip Marlowe novels are collected in one volume. These stories are positively ALIVE with atmosphere and characterization. Dont miss these novels, as a great introduction to Chandler’s work. You can feel the emotions boiling under ther surface of these characters, especially Marlowe, an honorable man in an increasingly dishonorable world. Not to be missed!

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  3. 1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    A polished and refined example of a rough, gritty genre, March 15, 2009
    By 
    Matthew Farrell (Tempe, Arizona) –

    This review is from: The Big Sleep & Farewell, My Lovely (Modern Library) (Hardcover)

    I read this largely on a whim, having had no exposure to this genre before except various parodies of it. I can easily see why this style of book in general and the “hard-boiled” presentation in particular remains popular 70+ years after the fact. After finishing The Big Sleep, my initial reaction was an urge to quit my job and become a private detective.

    Chandler can write: he has an sense of vivid description, and his use of similes is masterful. His prose alone was a pleasure to read, but he also has a keen sense of characters, plots, and almost byzantine twists there-in.

    Of the two stories, The Big Sleep struck me as the better of the pair both in terms of plot and presentation. I was a bit skeptical for much of Farewell My Lovely, as he seemed to be using a lot of “coincidence” to move things along — something of a pet peev of mine — but to my surprise he was able to tie it all together at the end in a fairly satisfactory manner. A calling card of HBDF is the slang and lingo, and there’s plenty of it here, and quite often it made me chuckle.

    These are interesting little time capsules of 1930s L.A. Modern readers with modern “politically correct” sensibilities should probably be warned that the books (especially Farewell) contain a good deal of un-PC sentiment: there are multiple racial stereotypes, N-bombs, and even a fair amount of misogyny. How much of this is Chandler’s own view and how much is his imitation of contemporary culture I don’t know, nor do I especially care. Others might not be so forgiving, so you have been cautioned.

    This is worth getting for The Big Sleep alone, but Farewell My Lovely is a decent companion piece. I wouldn’t want a steady diet of this type of reading, but it certainly piqued my interest enough that I will come back for more.

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