Monday, January 7, 2013

Book Report: The Big Sleep

When I asked my friend and master book-recommender, Dan, which book should kick off my foray into Raymond Chandler, he didn't hesitate to recommend The Big Sleep. Chandler has the kind of sharp, cool, hard-nosed, practically timeless prose that I've envied for days, months, years. And his master creation, the grim yet principled wisecracking detective Philip Marlowe, is a kick in the pants...

And I'd also like to note that Chandler writes the hell out of some dialogue. Now that's saying something because how tough is it to capture the rhythms of speech without sounding super fake? Um, pretty tough. And the slang! Oh, the glorious 1940s slang! My favorite might be two centuries instead of two hundred dollars, but I also love Marlowe calling his flashlight a flash. Such fun to read.

Outside the bright gardens had a haunted look, as though small wild eyes were watching me from behind the bushes, as though the sunshine itself had a mysterious something in its light. I got into my car and drove off down the hill.

What did it matter where you lay once you were dead? In a dirty sump or in a marble tower on top of a high hill? You were dead, you were sleeping the big sleep, you were not bothered by things like that. Oil and water were the same as wind and air to you. You just slept the big sleep, not caring about the nastiness of how you died or where you fell. Me, I was part of the nastiness now. --Raymond Chandler

So, the cold and mysterious month of January is dedicated to the gentlemen detectives. If you're enthralled by The Big Sleep, chances are you'll enjoy Chandler's other novels. Try The Long Goodbye or Farewell, My Lovely to start. And I'm betting Dashiell Hammett would be right up your alley--The Maltese Falcon,  Red Harvest, and my personal favorite, The Thin Man. Get cracking.

1. Man in fedora, via Tetino-tĂȘte; 2. 1940s Wilshire Blvd photo, via Andy Hurvitz; 3. Vintage Hollywood sign photo, by Racetay via etsy; 4. Vintage apartment intercom, via Wish!; 5. Vintage filing cabinet, via A Great Strange Dream;  6. 1940s banker's chair, by Restoration Hardware; 7. Trench, via Birth of a Supervillain; 8. Brogues, via Lux N Modern; 9. Ray-Ban Clubmasters, via; 10. Colt Detective Special .38, via Colt Autos; 11. Woman smoking, via Just Some Shit I Like; 12. Retro colorblock photo, via Make Yeah!

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