Raymond Chandler: Born 125 Years Ago Today

The Life of Raymond ChandlerIt’s odd to think that that as the news cycle fills with reports about the birth of the royal baby, we can still be fascinated by another birth, one that happened 125 years ago in Chicago, Illinois. But then that is Raymond Chandler2 for you. He is a writer who manages to transcend the narrow confines of the genre with which he is associated and is fixed in the canon as something more than a crime writer. 125 years after his birth, he is still considered current. His hero, Philip Marlowe, is about to be revived by Benjamin Black in a new mystery story whilst The Big Sleep, seventy four years after it was first published, can still inspire a generation of  designers to create great book covers.

Continue reading

Farewell, My Lovely

Raymond Chandler's Farewell My LovelyWriting Farewell, My Lovely

Of all of his novels, Farewell, My Lovely was the one that Raymond Chandler considered his favourite. It was first published in 1940 (by Knopf in the United States and Hamish Hamilton in Great Britain) and ten years later he wrote,

I think FAREWELL, MY LOVELY is the top and that I shall never again achieve quite the same combination of ingredients.

Continue reading

The Future of Self-Publishing

The Future of Self PublishingI am fascinated by self publishing at the moment, as many are in the books trade, and I wanted to share some thoughts. I’ve also been playing with Medium, a new blogging platform from one of the founders on twitter, which is where a draft of this post first appeared. You can read the original of The Future of Self-Publishing here or have a look at the text below.


Continue reading

The Big Sleep New Covers

The Big Sleep – The Penguin Cover

Penguin books run regular cover design competitions to find new talent and this year they selected The Big Sleep to test their wannabe designers. The shortlist  has just been released the covers are impressive. You can see the shortlisted designers on the Guardian website here and you can see the original brief here.

Continue reading

Some Thoughts on The Big Sleep

Raymond Chandler's The Big SleepWriting The Big Sleep

The Big Sleep was Raymond Chandler’s first novel and introduced his hero Philip Marlowe  to the world. It was published in 1939 by Knopf in the United States and Hamish Hamilton in the UnitedKingdom. It was largely written the year before when Chandler and his wife Cissy were in Pine Knot, a small village close to Big Bear Lake.

Continue reading

John Banville on the new Philip Marlowe novel

John Banville writing as Benjamin Black approaches Raymond Chandler's character Philip MarloweBlack-Eyed Blonde, the new Philip Marlowe novel, is scheduled to be released early next spring. John Banville is currently publicising his new Benjamin Black novel Holy Orders and, understandably, interviewers are asking him about Philip Marlowe and Raymond Chandler.

In this interview on RTE he talks a bit more about the experience of getting into Raymond Chandler’s head (listen from 1 hour 15 minutes in). It appears that the book is finished and John Banville is pleased with it so it won’t be long now before we get to judge it for ourselves.

Continue reading

The Black-Eyed Blonde – Benjamin Black’s new Philip Marlowe novel

Black Eyed Blonde

It was announced last year that John Banville, writing as Benjamin Black, would produce a new Philip Marlowe mystery. The details at the time were thin on the ground: the publisher in the US was to be Henry Holt and it would be released sometime in the autumn was about it. We now have a title, The Black-Eyed Blonde, and a revised release date, March 2014. You can see the Amazon page here.

I wrote a blog post for the Guardian which was broadly supportive. I still think John Banville is a great choice to tackle Philip Marlowe though judgement should be reserved until the book is actually published.

The title was one of several potential pulp titles listed in Chandler’s notebooks. It has been used before, as the title of an authorised short story by Benjamin M. Schutz in Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe: A Centennial Celebration, and, perhaps more interestingly, by Erle Stanley Gardner as the title for one of his Perry Mason stories. Since Gardner and Chandler were great friends it is possible that the Chandler suggested the title to Gardner. There is no mention of it in the correspondence I have read but Ray and Cissy were occasional visitors to the Gardner ranch and perhaps, over a coffee or a whisky, the title was mentioned. We will never know, of course. Gardner’s book is long out of print so it seems, for now at least, Chandler will be associated with the title once again.