waking up to Chandler

A fairly unusual occurrence for me – a book finished within a week: The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler, which I read because it came endorsed by my sister, and because I felt I should have read Chandler. How many other authors are there I should have read? More than enough to induce panic, guilt, and all sorts of other feelings that should not be associated with reading. But to go back to The Big Sleep – I read it without getting too hung up about following the twists and turns of the plot, or worrying when I didn’t get the American slang or some of the cut and thrust of the dialogue; I read it in a  spirit of curiosity and discovery; and the book drew me in. I loved the terse, precise descriptions; easy to imagine the words being struck out rapidly and decisively on a manual typewriter. Cliffhanger chapter endings, great moody atmosphere, sparing use of commas, a healthy serving of lowlifes and criminals, a cool butler worthy of Wodehouse, Marlowe as the quintessentially jaded Private Detective – Raymond Chandler, where have you been all my life? Patiently waiting on a bookshelf, with his cracking, beautifully weighted sentences.

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