Reading this biography, I found myself coming to like Raymond Chandler more than I thought I would.
Through various articles I’d read, I had come to the impression that Chandler the man was cantankerous, rude and nothing like Philip Marlowe. (The very public recollections of Billy Wilder probably helped form that opinion, as the two did really fall into a hate/hate relationship with each other.) But the man I found in these pages seemed a kind and intelligent soul, devoted to his wife, who nonetheless struggled with terrible alcoholism. An addiction he couldn’t quite bring himself to admit. What’s more there was a lot of Marlowe to him, there was the nobility, the jaundice eye and even the loneliness. Chandler may have been a married man and not a perpetual bachelor, but he was still someone who cut himself off from the outside world, even as he craved it.
This is a fine nuts and bolts biography which takes us through his life on both sides of the Atlantic, and the creation of his books and his legacy. It made me want to curl up and read The BIG SLEEP to THE LONG GOODBYE all over again. No, more than that! The write up that Hiney gives it actually makes me want to read PLAYBACK again.
The wonderful Megan Abbott penned an article the other week about Chandler’s problems with women in his novels. Reading with a Twenty-First Century eye, there may be issues relating to both gender and race, but – even if that’s the case – I’d never be able to divorce myself from loving these books. His writing is brutal poetry and is still wedded to my soul after three dozen rereads.
My new thriller, EDEN ST. MICHEL is out now and available at £1.99/$1.99 this week! Get your copy now!