Read The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler Free Online
Book Title: The Long Goodbye|
The author of the book: Raymond Chandler
Edition: Ballantine Books
Date of issue: January 12th 1982
ISBN 13: 9780345305824
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 320 KB
City - Country: No data
Loaded: 1817 times
Reader ratings: 4.2
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To say goodbye is to die a little.
There are some books that just feel good to have on your dashboard, never too far from your fingertips to read in the tiny gaps between obligations and responsibility. The type of book that rides shotgun and keeps you company through the darker hours, through lonely nights at a shady laundromat or booze-soaked rainstorms on your porch. Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye is that sort of book, that sort of friend. The past few months have seen some bleak times and I’ve been on a Chandler kick to press through them. Of all the Marlowe adventures, this was the one that stands out like a lighthouse in a storm telling an unforgettable tale of murder and mystery. Chandler took noir to soaring heights of literary acceptance with his works, joining Dashiell Hammett as an essential author of the genre and The Long Goodbye leaves an eternal mark on the face of literature even more so that the more upbeat and hardboiled The Big Sleep that kicked off the Phillip Marlowe novel series and inspired fantastic films such as The Big Lebowski. Goodbye is a novel for hard times, hard drinking, hard living; an aged and more cynical than ever Marlowe proves he’s worth his salt in honoring the memory of a short-lived but impactful friendship with Terry Lennox. Lennox, a war-hero alcoholic, has been a victim of either suicide or arranged murder in a small Mexican town while on the lam escaping an accusation for murder of his rich wife, and Marlowe will stop at nothing to see through the doors slammed shut by political power and fear and discover the truth. While a bit bloated, this is a novel of near perfection in the mystery genre that is guaranteed to keep you up at night, gladly dropping more quarters for another dryer cycle in order to keep reading because a mystery with Marlowe is about as good as life gets.
To label this novel perfection would be to bastardize any opinions on the literature more widely accepted by the academy that I’ve previously championed and praised, but few novels have felt like a better friend in hard times than The Long Goodbye. Or perhaps it’s just that I like occupying Marlowe’s headspace. I even named my new cat after him upon completion of The Big Sleep. Marlowe is the type of man you wish you were, but not one you’d want to spend time with. He is fearless and devoted nearly to a fault, unafraid to play the asshole to get what he wants. He swims upon his moods and cherishes those moments of getting right up in someones face just to drown out a bad feeling or ascertain the truth. He calls everyone out on their bullshit and possesses a moral compass so strong that nobody besides himself seems to be worth a damn. Pushy and thorny, Marlowe is the hero for me. Reading a Chandler novel is much like geeking out on the old John Wayne films I’d watch with my father as a child, particularly True Grit. There are the pitfalls of blatant misogyny, racism (particularly towards Latin Americans in this one, which with my love of Latin American literature was particularly not cool) and cornball dated humor, but it is honestly very easy to overlook when the plot is that engaging, the writing that ‘cool’ and the novel so entertaining. How can you not love a novel with a passage like this:Alcohol is like love...The first kiss is magic, the second is intimate, the third is routine. After that you take the girl’s clothes off.¹
This is the sort of novel that keeps you pouring a glass along with Marlowe—perhaps is that what they mean by an ‘active reader’, one who empathizes with the character and drinks when he drinks?—and despite being a pot-boiler of a thriller, never insults the intellect. The twists are fresh and the writing crisp. Granted, the novel is a bit bloated and some elements may raise the ‘really?’ eyebrow of critique, but on the whole it works. It is easy to consider many bits as cliche in the modern day, but important to remember that it was Chandler that invented it before it became cliche. There is also a really charming self-consciousness to this novel with regards to the writing. ‘Why did I go into such detail?’ Marlowe asks of himself, ‘because the charged atmosphere made every little thing stand out as a performance.’ The writing truly fits the scene and the P.I. narrator. While in most novels it would be easy to sneer at a lengthy passage on the physical description and dress of a character as they first walk on the scene, here it is at home since Marlowe would need to analyze a fresh face for all they are worth to build a profile of them quickly in order to interact with them and press for the goal. Chandler has a true gift for dialogue and character mannerisms as well, creating a wide, engaging cast. ‘He was a guy who talked with commas, like a heavy novel,’ he says at one point, and the dialogue of each character is always brilliantly nuanced. There is even a wonderful sense of satire on authors present, with Chandler poking fun at top-selling authors who write for profit and not for artistic merit, as is shown with Roger Wade. The continuous satire and critique of Hollywood and California that permeates Chandler’s novels comes alive in comical form with the desert sobering-up-clinic and the mentally challenged guard who cannot separate his fantasy role-playing of cowboys and tough guys from reality. On the surface it is easy to scoff at these scenes, but Chandler plays for something deeper.
It is fascinating to have read Chandler grow as a writer and to see his characters develop and age over time. Like a racoon, Marlowe has grown older and meaner and tougher, but all the more honorable, strong-willed and fearless. Maybe I was tired and irritable. Maybe I felt a little guilty. I could learn to hate this guy without even knowing him. I could just look at him across the width of a cafeteria and want to kick his teeth in The relationship between him and Ohl has soured a bit, both of them really elbowing the other in the ribs with more force and sadistic pleasure, with Ohl no longer a chain-smoker but constantly rubbing an unlit cigarette between his lips. What has not changed is the insight into Los Angeles and Hollywood, blossoming now into subtle jabs of social insight with Marlowe looking down at all the socialites as their sins and flaws seem to define them. The Long Goodbye reads almost like a western where the territory is wild and untamed and crime running rampant not as a driving force but as a symptom of the American lifestyle we have let cultivate itself. Power and greed and evil are seen here as byproducts of a society ruled by its own fear and vice, and Marlowe must navigate these deadly waters to uphold the good names of himself and those he cares about.
The Long Goodbye is a cornerstone of noir and mystery that rises above any genre into simply being a beautiful piece of literature. A searing social critique orchestrated with dazzling plot twists, enviable dialogue prowess and a firm grounding in doing what is right simply because it is right, Chandler has created a masterpiece that is just as potent today as it was when first written. This is the sort of novel that scratches an itch of being both a fluff read and an intellectual endeavour (there must be a term for this somewhere) and grabs the reader by the throat and heart and won’t let go until the final, heart wrenching few lines. Plus, the Robert Altman film starring Elliott Gould is fantastic (though not a perfect adaption it still works) and rivals even Chinatown as a masterpiece of noir cinema. This novel was a true comfort on many a dark night and it was sad to see it end. Marlowe is a true literary hero and one I won’t ever forget.
‘Out there in the night of a thousand crimes people were dying, being maimed, cut by flying glass, crushed against steering wheels or under heavy tires. People were being beaten, robbed, strangled, raped, and murdered. People were hungry, sick; bored, desperate with loneliness or remorse or fear, angry, cruel, feverish, shaken by sobs. A city no worse than others, a city rich and vigorous and full of pride, a city lost and beaten and full of emptiness.
It all depends on where you sit and what your own private score is. I didn’t have one. I didn’t care.
I finished the drink and went to bed.’
¹ While there is plenty of drinking to be had (finish this novel without wanting to go order a gimlet, I dare you), Chandler does well to also add an air of caution to the intake of alcohol. To drink in moderation is one thing, but the horrors of alcoholism and excess make up a major portion of the novel. ‘A man who drinks too much on occasion is still the same man as he was sober. An alcoholic, a real alcoholic, is not the same man at all. You can't predict anything about him for sure except that he will be someone you never met before.’
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Read information about the authorRaymond Thornton Chandler was an American novelist and screenwriter.
In 1932, at age forty-four, Raymond Chandler decided to become a detective fiction writer after losing his job as an oil company executive during the Depression. His first short story, "Blackmailers Don't Shoot", was published in 1933 in Black Mask, a popular pulp magazine. His first novel, The Big Sleep, was published in 1939. In addition to his short stories, Chandler published just seven full novels during his lifetime (though an eighth in progress at his death was completed by Robert B. Parker). All but Playback have been realized into motion pictures, some several times. In the year before he died, he was elected president of the Mystery Writers of America. He died on March 26, 1959, in La Jolla, California.
Chandler had an immense stylistic influence on American popular literature, and is considered by many to be a founder, along with Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain and other Black Mask writers, of the hard-boiled school of detective fiction. Chandler's Philip Marlowe, along with Hammett's Sam Spade, are considered by some to be synonymous with "private detective," both having been played on screen by Humphrey Bogart, whom many considered to be the quintessential Marlowe.
Some of Chandler's novels are considered to be important literary works, and three are often considered to be masterpieces: Farewell, My Lovely (1940), The Little Sister (1949), and The Long Goodbye (1953). The Long Goodbye is praised within an anthology of American crime stories as "arguably the first book since Hammett's The Glass Key, published more than twenty years earlier, to qualify as a serious and significant mainstream novel that just happened to possess elements of mystery".
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