100 One-Night Reads: A Book Lover's Guideby David C. Major, John S. Major, Holly Johnson (Text by)
Readers everywhere know that nothing soothes the spirit like sinking into a really good book. If you're one of that happy band, you'll quickly recognize the authors of this inspired reading guide as kindred spirits. Here David and John Major have chosen one hundred books that can each be delightfully consumed in one quiet evening. Covering categories from fantasy
Readers everywhere know that nothing soothes the spirit like sinking into a really good book. If you're one of that happy band, you'll quickly recognize the authors of this inspired reading guide as kindred spirits. Here David and John Major have chosen one hundred books that can each be delightfully consumed in one quiet evening. Covering categories from fantasy to fiction, history to humor, mystery to memoir, this addictive volume features books to match all your moods—by both celebrated writers and gifted unknowns, including:
• Russell Baker • Willa Cather • Raymond Chandler • F. Scott Fitzgerald • Graham Greene • Edith Hamilton • Dashiell Hammett • Helene Hanff • Ernest Hemingway • Patricia Highsmith • Shirley Jackson • Henry James • W. Somerset Maugham • Mary McCarthy • Walter Mosley • Vladimir Nabokov • Patrick O'Brian • Barbara Pym • Phillip Roth • Vikram Seth • Isaac Bashevis Singer • C. P. Snow • Dylan Thomas • Evelyn Waugh • Edith Wharton • Laura Ingalls Wilder • Virginia Woolf
Each selection contains an entertaining discussion of what makes the book special, from an adventurous writing style to a unique sense of humor. The Majors also share insights about the authors and literary anecdotes, as well as recommend other gems on a similar subject or by the same author.
A literary companion to relish and refer to again and again, 100 One-Night Reads is a masterpiece in its own right!
- Random House Publishing Group
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Read an Excerpt
RAYMOND CHANDLER The Big Sleep
Raymond Chandler was born in Chicago but spent most of his early life in
England. He attended Dulwich College and fought with Great Britain's
Royal Flying Corps during World War I. After the war he re-turned to
America, settled in Los Angeles, and had a successful business career during the 1920s in California's booming oil industry. He was wiped out financially by the 1929 stock market crash and the Great Depression that followed it, and began to write crime stories for pulp magazines to make a living. Persevering in this precarious career, he won acclaim in 1939
with the publication of his first novel, The Big Sleep. He wrote six more novels over the course of the next two decades, all featuring his tough-guy detective hero, Philip Marlowe. In 1943, Chandler began to write film scripts as well as novels and stories, and he achieved considerable success in the gritty and often grim films that French critics would later call cinema noir.
Chandler's novels were strongly influenced by the work of his con-temporary Dashiell Hammett (p. 92), to the extent that Hammett and
Chandler are sometimes described as founders of a "California school" of hard-boiled detective fiction. (A notable feature of Chandler's novels,
especially, is that they convey very effectively the atmosphere of corruption that was characteristic of Los Angeles politics and the city's police department and criminal justice system for much of the twentieth century.) Philip Marlowe is a tough character whose attitudes and personal code are very much in the mold of Hammett's Sam Spade,
though Marlowe is, generally speaking, a classier sort of detective than
Spade and deals with a richer, more polished clientele. Like all heroes of the genre, Marlowe is essentially a lone wolf who lives by his own private moral code. He is interested in justice more than in material success, and will sometimes (as in this novel) pursue a case further than his client has asked in order to satisfy his own sense of what is right.
In The Big Sleep, Marlowe is hired by aging, infirm General Stern-wood to look into attempts by parties unknown to extort money from him in what amounts to blackmail. The general's daughters are both involved in unwise activities. Vivian, the beautiful elder daughter, is a compulsive gambler, which has given her some unsavory associates; these include her recently disappeared husband, Regan, an ex-bootlegger and Irish
Republican Army veteran. The younger daughter, Carmen, is a seriously disturbed personality whose problems include substance abuse,
promiscuity, and a total lack of moral sense. One element of Carmen's difficulties is that she has been photographed naked by Geiger, a distributor of illegal pornography. (Given the ubiquity of porn nowadays, it seems rather quaint that part of the plot of this novel turns on a conspiracy to distribute dirty pictures. How times change!)
Geiger's business, in turn, is involved with that of Eddie Mars, a promoter of gambling and other illegal activities, who is someone with whom Vivian has been involved.
Of course, all of these people are immersed in murky dealings that involve one another, and other parties as well, in unexpected and labyrinthine ways. Marlowe's job is to disentangle as much of this as possible while remaining true to himself and while shielding his client,
the noble and admirable General Sternwood, from learning too much about the unsavory activities of his daughters (though he guesses a great deal anyway). Romantic sparks fly between Marlowe and Vivian Sternwood, but the circumstances under which they meet make it impossible for a relationship to develop. At the end of the book, Marlowe is as he was at the beginning, a loner and an idealist.
This is a very entertaining read, even if not every element of the plot holds together as tightly as one might like, and even though it is no longer possible to summon up the expected amount of outrage over
Geiger's illegal activities. Marlowe is a wonderful character, and
Chandler's spare, tough language is exactly appropriate for the genre.
It is fun for the dedicated crime-novel reader to observe, too, how later practitioners have learned from this early master of the form. The
1946 film of The Big Sleep, starring the immortal team of Humphrey
Bogart and Lauren Bacall, is a true classic (William Faulkner worked on the excellent screenplay).
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I can't say that I would read every title suggested by the authors, but the authors have a great writing style and give little background info about the author or put the book in historical context as well as provide a summary of the book without giving anything away. The table of contents is also nice because it lists the books by genre. This book contains very few classics, it's more of a modern, personal selection by the authors.
If you are looking for fairly short but amazing books to read, this is the book guide for you. The authors are so knowledgeable and write so well, that before long you will find yourself buying and ENJOYING many of their selections. This is a must-have book that you will refer to again and again. I know I have!
This essay collection provides insight into 100 literary items that run the gamut from ¿Beowulf¿ to ¿Breakfast at Tiffany¿s¿ to ¿Parkinson¿s Law¿ to ¿Something Fresh¿ to ¿Auntie Mama¿, etc. The authors analyze the tale & offer background material on the author. The material analyzed range from fantasy, general fiction, non-fiction, humor, memoirs and biographies, mystery, science, and travel. Each essay is very interesting, insightful, and worth the price of 100 ONE-NIGHT READS, especially if the reader obtains the original piece and uses the work of the Major siblings as a supplement or guide. Harriet Klausner