Daylight Noir: Raymond Chandler's Imagined City comprises photographs of all those ominous, forbidding Los Angeles locations so hauntingly described by Chandler in his novels. From Malibu Pier to the Hollywood Sign, from Union Station to the Beverly Hills Hotel, from MGM Studios to Musso and Frank's Grill, these locales form the geography of Chandler's imagination, and conjure a world not yet entirely vanished. Clive James wrote of Chandler's fascination with Los Angeles that "when he said that it had as much personality as a paper cup, he was saying what he liked about it." But Chandler was also drawn to the Hopperesque loneliness of the city, to that sense of isolate existences that never merge. In these photographs, Catherine Corman (editor of Joseph Cornell's Dreams) has given us, as Jonathan Lethem writes in his preface, "a supremely evocative catalogue of haunted places... these streets and buildings we have erected in order to give order to our solitudes."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Catherine Corman: Daylight Noir based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Daylight Noir: Raymond Chandler's Imagined City by Catherine Corman is based on a simple premise--photograph the locations mentioned in Raymond Chandler's detective novels set in Los Angelos, California. The 54 photographs in Daylight Noir are each matched with a brief quotation from Chandler passage that mentions the location. The results are much better than I expected.I've seen books based on similar ideas, a then and now book that chronicled locations in 1920's movies, but none have reached the level of artistry Catherine Corman does in Daylight Noir. Ms. Corman avoids making her photographs a simple record of how each setting looks. Instead, she produces a more artistic photograph, evocative of Chandler's prose, spare, to the point, a bit cynical. Raymond Chandler's stories are set in the land of sunshine, Southern California, but they are never sunny. His interior world is one of grays, matched in Ms. Corman's photographs by the cloudless California sky which is often a solid block of gray in a black and white photograph.
Raymond Chandler set his stories and novels in a Los Angeles that sometimes seemed to me to be part of an alternate universe. The city was still recognizable but something was always just a little off about it. Chandler created his striking version of Los Angeles so successfully, in fact, that it often seemed more real, if rather more odd and dangerous, to me than the real city streets of L.A. I followed Chandler into his Los Angeles before I ever saw the real thing for myself and I was somewhat disappointed by what I saw when I finally got there. The two cities, real and imagined, just did not match up all that well for me. After having read Catherine Corman's photo-filled "Daylight Noir," I know for sure that the problem was entirely my own. "Daylight Noir" is filled with moody black and white photographs of many of the locations prominently featured in Chandler's work, photos as arresting as the images created by Chandler himself. My problem was that I was looking at Los Angeles through modern eyes and in living color. Corman solves that problem by producing all of her photos in high contrast black and white, just as they might have been photographed in Chandler's heyday. The reader will note, too, that there are no people in any of the pictures, a tactic that further enhances the feeling of big city loneliness so common in Chandler's work. Catherine Corman has an artistic eye and her photographs reflect that artistry. They are shot from unusual angles, only rarely straight on, and yet have the look of pictures that could have been taken in the early decades of the last century. Corman's photos tell me more about Los Angeles than any of those thousands of self-promoting, touristy, pictures I have seen over a lifetime. As a bonus, they also remind me why I love Raymond Chandler's work so much and they make me anxious to revisit his stories for the first time in a long while. "Daylight Noir" is the perfect companion piece to Raymond Chandler's mysteries and I plan to keep it near my Chandler collection so that I can refer to it the next time I crack open one of his hardboiled stories. "Daylight Noir" should appeal equally to fans of photo collections and to fans of the remarkable work of Raymond Chandler. Rated at: 5.0