From the Publisher
“Raymond Chandler is a master.” –New York Times
“Chandler wrote like a slumming angel and invested the sun-blinded streets of Los Angeles with a romantic presence.” –Ross Macdonald
“Raymond Chandler invented a new way of talking about America, and America has never looked the same to us since.” –Paul Auster
“The prose rises to heights of unself-conscious eloquence, and we realize with a jolt of excitement that we are in the presence of not a mere action-tale teller, but a stylist, a writer with a vision…The reader is captivated by Chandler’s seductive prose.” –Joyce Carol Oates, New York Review of Books
“Chandler is one of my favorite writers. His books bear rereading every few years. The novels are a perfect snapshot of an American past, and yet the ruined romanticism of the voice is as fresh as if they were written yesterday.” –Jonathan Lethem
“Chandler seems to have invented our post-war dream lives–the tough but tender hero, the dangerous blonde, the rain-washed sidewalks, and the roar of the traffic (and the ocean) in the distance…Chandler is the classic lonely romantic outsider for our times, and American literature, as well as English, would be the poorer for his absence.” –Pico Iyer
"There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husband's necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge." Sure, those lines are the opener for "Red Wind," a little yarn about a couple of boys getting bumped off kind of rough. But you could be eyeballing "Trouble is My Busi-ness," "Pickup on Noon Street" or any other dark gem pick-axed from the underworld of L.A., a town as edgy as a rummy in a lockjaw ward. Hand it to Chandler--Marlowe, Dalmas, all those sourpussed coppers, they get under your skin. You crack wise.
You size things up differently, like nothing is on the square. Especially dames. You get an itch to know things, things you didn't even know you didn't know, see, because some of the stories in this book have been out of print for 40 years, forgotten like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich under a sofa cushion. So take a load off, pull out the office bottle and turn a few pages. You won't look up again until your peepers feel like you gave them sandpaper eyedrops. Anyway, unless a blonde shows up, the way blondes do, sporting a black cocktail dress and a cute little .25 automatic to match.
It was a big year for Chandler: not only did Knopf release his full canon in this hardcover trio, which includes some long-out-of-print stories, but Vintage also released a new set of paperbacks (LJ 7/02) of all his books. (LJ 9/15/02) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
This definitive omnibus of Chandler’s short fiction, prefaced by John Bayley’s suavely general, very English introduction, makes previous collections look downright niggardly. In addition to the eight stories of Killer in the Rain (1964), which Chandler "cannibalized" (his term) for The Big Sleep, Farewell, My Lovely, and The Lady in the Lake, and the 13 non-cannibalized stories in the Library of America Stories and Early Novels (1995), it includes "The Pencil"—Chandler’s last story, and practically the only one that stars Philip Marlowe and not some earlier version of the peerless shamus like Mallory, Ted Carmady, or John Dalmas—and three never-before-reprinted tales. It’s easy to see why "The Bronze Door" (1939), "Professor Bingo’s Snuff" (1951), and "English Summer" (1974) have sunk into obscurity, since all three are atypical—the first a supernaturally-tinged fable of alternative lives, the second an equally paranormal account of a cuckold who takes advantage of an invisibility potion to take control, the third a romantic idyll that ends in murder—though all are full of characteristically male dreamers and female schemers. Fans inadvisedly imbibing the rest of the collection nonstop will see Chandler’s rapid evolution from the violent fumblings of "Blackmailers Don’t Shoot" to the pulp formula mastery of "Goldfish" to the matchless urban poetry of "Red Wind" and "I’ll Be Waiting."
Chandler thought of himself as a novelist who also wrote short fiction, and this collection won’t change that verdict. But having all 25 of the world’s greatest pulp writer’s checkered, indispensable stories available in a single volume is a pleasure long overdue.