Madeleine's Reviews > The Big Sleep

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
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May 12, 09

bookshelves: peer-pressure, what-he-brought-to-the-bearriage, 2009, the-face-is-familar, our-libeary, maybe-it-s-time-to-live
Read from April 21 to May 12, 2009

This is another novel my fiance kept telling me that I needed to read. After watching the film adaptation (you know, where Humphrey Bogart is just spilling his sly brand of suave all over the place like he's got plenty to spare), I was properly intrigued.

From what I understand, Raymond Chandler perfected the crime novel. And it's evident that he knew what he was doing by his first book. Before they were cliches, the elements of the detective story had their roots in Chandler's very capable hands. Not even decades of weak imitation or being repeatedly beaten to predictability by lesser writers mitigate the walloping effect of Chandler's mechanics and plot lines.

That being said, I respect the genre, but it just isn't my cup of tea. Yes, Philip Marlowe just exudes cool to the point where it's almost dripping off the pages. Chandler's one-liners still sparkle and slice. The man knows how to keep his reader's attention, how to turn a phrase, how to develop a character with the arch of an eyebrow and the delivery of a single line. While he breaks the cardinal rule of writing (show, don't tell), the pithy observations are written in such a way befitting a professional detective who's mighty good at what he does. There isn't an unnecessary line in the book. The cast of supporter characters is no less compelling than Chandler's protagonist. It's all tightly written, neatly packaged and well presented. i do think I should have saved the film for later, though, as I'm fairly certain knowing how a crime novel ends kind of puts a damper on the experience.

It's got murder, greed, corruption, sarcasm, pornography, illicit kisses and more snappy dialogue than you can shake a stick at. It's definitely compelling and an addictive read, but it's also part of a genre that I'm not clamoring to read more of, regardless of how good it might be.
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04/21/2009 page 45
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