Continuing my rereading of the books of and about Raymond Chandler, I turn to Farewell, My Lovely, the second novel to be published (1940).
The plot moves on the story of Moose Malloy (and his one-time, some-time girlfriend Little Velma), a smart cop, a dump cop, and enough concussions (all sustained by Philip Marlowe) to make your head spin and your brain stutter. And a few frails of distinctive appearance, and a con man or three.
About Moose, Chandler writes –
He was a big man but not more than six feet five inches tall and not wider than a beer truck.
And Marlowe is as wise a wise guy as he was in the first outing, The Big Sleep –
I said nothing. I leaned against the door frame and put a cigarette in my mouth and tried to jerk it up far enough to hit my nose with it. This is harder than it looks.
After two novels, the reader begins to understand, and appreciate, that Chandler takes great care to describe all of his characters, great and small, with abundant detail. The same goes for the city and the countryside that Marlowe lives and moves and has his being in.
I seem to recall someone of critical standing saying something like that about the extravagance of Fyodor Dostoevsky in describing even minor characters.
The plot of Farewell, My Lovely is more complex than that of The Big Sleep, in my view, but I do like the first novel better, by the length of the ash on that cigarette of Marlowe’s.
Chandler writes a series of stories about Marlowe that have a sense of growth and the passage of time, but he does not call attention to this fact in the way we do now when writing a series. That may be a good thing to ponder. Why call attention to the series thing? Assured that another book in a series is coming, the reader does not have to hope and wonder whether there will be another Marlowe novel. This hoping and wondering bonds reader to writer in ways that a blurb like second novel in a series called Philip Marlowe, Wise Guy with Hard Head does not.
About this series I call #rereading —
I’ve always figured that I have a book addiction. I just never intended to do anything about it.