I really don't know what to make of this. Enjoyable overall, but there was so much that was bewildering.
I'm reminded of something I heard about humor.I really don't know what to make of this. Enjoyable overall, but there was so much that was bewildering.
I'm reminded of something I heard about humor. A psychologist who'd made a rather superficial study of responses to some form of humor remarked that subjects tended to fall into two categories: one group laughed uproariously, and the other group stroked their chins (or something similar) and quietly said, "Hmm, that's funny. Interesting." The point was that most comedians fell into the second group.
I think this book is analogous — most people scratch their heads and think "I know I'm missing something, probably a lot, and I have no idea how much it matters", while a smaller group of readers (including a lot of authors) stare off into the middle distance and think, "Deeply provocative confusion. Hmm, fascinating."
If I could, though, I'd be diving straight into the next in the series, because there are mysteries here. To quote Churchill, "It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key", and I'm willing to keep looking for that key. Unfortunately, real life responsibilities mean I can't read the next in the series for a while......more
I thought that was a very good audiobook, although I'm not too experienced with listening to books. Gould's voice definitely had the correct gritty depth, and once you get used to his fairly limited range and repertoire of vocal characterizations, it work really well. Chandler uses first person, limited point of view narration in the book, so a single narrator really fits the book. It is also unabridged, which appeals me as a reader.
This version is from a BBC radio dramatization by the BBC (no, none of the characters mysteriously acquired British accents). That means there are limited sound effects, and different actors voice the lines of the different characters. I only listened to twenty minutes or so, but I liked it.
Some specifics: one mild negative is that the actor playing Marlowe doesn't really have the right voice. There's no gravel in his throat from endless glasses (not merely shots) of whiskey and countless cigarettes.
Since there's a lot of interior monologue from Marlowe's perspective, the lead actor is switching from speaking lines that others characters are hearing, to voiceover lines that they aren't. Using other voices actually makes that a little trickier, but it worked fairly seamlessly for me; no trouble at all.
But that was the only poor casting choice. The voice of Moose Malloy was a delight; it perfectly matched the physicality of that character. The others I heard in that limited sample were fine, too. The sound effects made the action more accessible, helping to frame the change of scenes in the listener's imagination.
Which of the audiobooks should you listen to (assuming you don't want both, perhaps at different times)?
This version works a bit better at being engaging. Those sound effects and voice changes really help signal a change in scene and keeping characters separated. If you're on a commute or a roadtrip, for example, or in some other distracting environment, it'd probably work better. For the same reasons, it'll work well for those who aren't used to audiobooks, or specifically enjoy the theatrical aspect—there are a lot of good radio plays that have been made that don't get enough attention.
Gould's version, on the other hand, is unabridged and uses precisely one voice, as does the book. So it probably would appeal to someone that really wants the "book" experience. I listened to Gould read the first Marlowe book, The Big Sleep, while on a very long walk around San Francisco on a November evening and it was perfect (well, yeah, a Dashiell Hammett novel might have been better. I'll get to those). The second one I listened too on the couch while suffering from a cold a few weeks later. It worked well as a substitute for a book—when I listened to this radio play, I immediately detected the edits, so I'm confident I got about as much out of Gould's audiobook as I would have from the text.
Well, again, like the first book, there are some elements of historic social injustice reflected uncritically here, and that canWonderful, wonderful!
Well, again, like the first book, there are some elements of historic social injustice reflected uncritically here, and that can be disturbing. But given that complex limitation, the storytelling here otherwise excels.
The most obvious thing we recognize in Chandler is his hard-boiled tough guy narrative, and that deserves the attention. This is definitely part of the hyper-masculine world of John Wayne and Anglo Saxon machismo—the knight errant who never receives or even accepts the benediction of the affection of others. The closest anyone can ever get to a man like this is friendly wise-cracking camaraderie, and that is also portrayed well.
Another aspect, though, is how often Chandler spends time describing the scenery, and clothing. It verges on tedious at times, saved only by the incongruity of a tough guy—someone perceived as a brute—walking into yet another mansion and pondering the elegant architecture and landscape, then meeting someone and focusing so intently on the color and material of fabric, or the many other details that are supposed to be invisible to such an archetypal male gaze.
One difference between Chandler's second novel and the first, The Big Sleep, is that he didn't lose track of any plot threads here. Oh, no one has yet pointed out that one of the murders in the first novel remains unexplained? Well, that doesn't happen here.
The mere fact that the first book could work as wonderfully as it does with such an astonishing oversight points out what makes the Philip Marlowe novels so distinctive: the plot is chaotic, and simply all over the place. In this one, there are several plot threads that are never tied up, and at least three surplus villains. In comparison, all the other tidy drawing-room detective novels—even those that involve copious amounts of violence and far more mayhem than Chandler delivers—feel artificial in comparison. To the extent we understand how detective work must be, clearly there's never going to be complete information, or a settle resolution of any significant number of crimes, at least in the absence of a complete confession (and, given that the vast majority of violent criminals aren't firing on all cylinders, as it were, even a confession might not always provide logical closure).
Chandler delivers something that feels real. Agatha Christie is providing a logic puzzle based on careful observation of details. Fun, but bloodless. Even when blood is spilt, many authors never seem to do chaos correctly.
Oh, yeah, there are plenty that have learned this lesson. Sure—but as far as I know, Chandler did it first, and he did it magnificently.
Oh, I listened to this as an unabridged audiobook narrated by Elliot Gould, who was an admirable choice, having actually played Philip Marlowe on the big screen in 1973. I liked the fact that it was unabridged; I also enjoyed the fact that a single narrator's voice fits the novel well, since it is a first-person narrative (most novels are in the third person). Gould's voice is also deep and nicely gravelly, and fits Marlowe's, even if it seems a bit off for some of the other characters.
I also listened to the first twenty minutes or so of an alternate version, which began existence as a BBC Radio Play. It has multiple voice actors playing the different characters, as well as some sound effects to set the scene, so it is more acoustically interesting, and undoubtedly more "accessible", which might help those that otherwise might not quicken to the moderately complex plot that Chandler lays out. It might also work better as, for example, entertainment on a commute or a road trip, where driving should be taking up some of the listener's cognitive capacity. That version was, however, abridged, so it isn't quite as pristine as a "book" experience. Oh, and the voice of Marlowe really wasn't tough enough. Still, good listening. ...more
I was really tempted to give this five stars. Can I really blame Chandler for including the misogynistic and homophobic that was undoubtedly an accuraI was really tempted to give this five stars. Can I really blame Chandler for including the misogynistic and homophobic that was undoubtedly an accurate portrayal of the brutish and nasty world of Philip Marlowe?
I'm afraid I can. I don't think anyone has ever written this kind of fiction better, and it is certainly hard to imagine someone shoehorning an enlightened attitude into the confines here, but it is what I wish for. Choosing to write the book in the first person certainly didn't make that task any easier.
Still, that fifth star tempts me. Chandler writes so perfectly, consistently finding the right phrase, and the right word, to economically and beautifully capture the nasty world our dark knight struggles against, with wit and a hard head.
I'm a little dismayed I didn't learn about this a long time ago, when I was discovering some of the classic texts (e.g., The Lonely Crowd or The OrgI'm a little dismayed I didn't learn about this a long time ago, when I was discovering some of the classic texts (e.g., The Lonely Crowd or The Organization Man .)
❝“Politics and Vision,” subtitled “Continuity and Innovation in Western Political Thought,” appeared at a time when American political science was under the sway of the behavioralist revolution, which emphasized the quantitative analysis of data rather than political ideas as a way to explain political behavior.
Professor Wolin, then teaching at the University of California, Berkeley, galvanized the profession by gathering key political philosophers, beginning with the Greeks, in a grand debate on democracy and examining their ideas not as historical artifacts, but as a way to criticize current political structures.
“The book revitalized political theory by making its history relevant to an analysis of the present,” Nicholas Xenos, a student of Professor Wolin’s and a professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, wrote in an email. “It challenged the behavioralists, for whom history was increasingly irrelevant. It also provided a way to criticize the present using the concepts and vocabulary that since antiquity had sustained concern for what he called ‘the possibilities of collectivity, common action and shared purposes.’ ”
In 1985, the American Political Science Association honored the book with the Benjamin E. Lippincott Award in recognition of its lasting impact. It was reissued in expanded form in 2004.❞
It appears to be quite appropriate to study today....more
From the study guide questions (!): “Book reviewers have called Flavia a rougher, tougher Hermione Granger; Prime Suspect’s Jane Tennison as a child; aFrom the study guide questions (!): “Book reviewers have called Flavia a rougher, tougher Hermione Granger; Prime Suspect’s Jane Tennison as a child; a combination of Eloise and Sherlock Holmes; and Harriet the Spy by way of Agatha Christie, with a dash of Lemony Snicket and the Addams Family.”
Yeah, about that. A seriously charming eleven year old girl....more