Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Retro Review: Farewell My Lovely (1940) by Raymond Chandler

Finished reading Farewell, My Lovely aloud to Christi. Overall, we enjoyed it. However, there were some aspects we were disappointed by. Of course, with Chandler you never expect a logical plot. In the case here, it seemed as if Marlowe was jumping from one thing to the next without any logic. However, Chandler is quite talented at vividly creating a scene--even if how we got to the scene makes no sense. As I understand it, Chandler improvised his stories and did not plot them out in advance. It shows here. The sentences are wonderful to marvel at and wonderful to read aloud.

"She gave me a smile I could feel in my hip pocket"--Farewell, My Lovely (Chapter 18)

"I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance, I needed a vacation, I needed a home in the country. What I had was a coat, a hat and a gun." Farewell, My Lovely (Chapter 34)

""She's a charming middle age lady with a face like a bucket of mud and if she's washed her hair since Coolidge's second term, I'll eat my spare tire, rim and all." " -- Farewell, My Lovely (Chapter 6)

"Even on Central Avenue, not the quietest dressed street in the world, he looked about as inconspicuous as a tarantula on a slice of angel food."--Farewell, My Lovely (Chapter 1)

"I walked back through the arch and started up the steps. It was a nice walk if you liked grunting. There were two hundred and eighty steps up to Cabrillo Street. They were drifted over with windblown sand and the handrail was as cold and wet as a toad's belly."--Farewell, My Lovely (Chapter 8)

"The voice got as cool as a cafeteria dinner."--Farewell, My Lovely (Chapter 15)

"She was as cute as a washtub." -- Farewell, My Lovely (Chapter 5)

"The house itself was not so much. It was smaller than Buckingham Palace, rather gray for California, and probably had fewer windows than the Chrysler Building. I sneaked over to the side entrance and pressed a bell and somewhere a set of chimes made a deep mellow sound like church bells. A man in a striped vest and gilt buttons opened the door, bowed, took my hat and was through for the day."-- Farewell, My Lovely (Chapter 18)

"I sat beside her on the yellow leather chesterfield. 'Aren't you a pretty fast worker?' she asked quietly. I didn't answer her.

'Do you do much of this sort of thing?' she asked with a sidelong look.

'Practically none. I'm a Tibetan monk, in my spare time.'

'Only you don't have any spare time.'""--Farewell, My Lovely (Chapter 18)

"It was a blonde. A blonde to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained glass window."--Farewell, My Lovely (Chapter 13)

Yet if you easily get bored with excessive description, you might want to take a pass on this one. It seemed at times as if I was reading for hours before I got to any dialogue. All in all, the book was enjoyable but not my favorite Chandler. I'd have to say The Big Sleep remains my personal favorite, with The Long Goodbye being second--mainly for its poetic prose.

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