Wednesday, August 08, 2012

A Mysterious Something in the Light: Raymond Chandler, A Life -- Tom Williams

Did we really need another biography of Raymond Chander?  Maybe not, but as a fan of his work, I'm always glad to see it being celebrated, and a new biography is as good a way as any to do it.  And there is some new information included in this one.  Not a lot, but enough to shed a little more light on Chandler as a person, and it's always fun to read someone's analysis of the fiction. 

Williams doesn't shy away from the unpleasant aspects of Chandler's personality and the more squalid parts of his life.  The latter part of the book is pretty hard to take, as Chandler becomes a pathetic figure.  His alcoholism takes over in a sense, though Williams makes it clear that Chandler had the drinking under at least some control for the best years of his career. 

There's no question that Williams is a fan of Chandler's work.  He says at one point, "Along with The Maltese Falcon and Double Indemnity, it [The Big Sleep] has come to represent the high peak of the hardboiled genre.  And of these three novels, it is by far the best."  That's a comment that might draw some argument, but it tells you where Williams stands.  I enjoyed his comments on the work, including the rather brief ones on Chandler's early poetry (which was pretty awful).  

Williams quotes generously from Chandler's work and letters, and if people who read the book aren't already fans, they might find themselves converted.  Check it out.

1 comment:

George said...

I'll pick up a copy of A MYSTERIOUS SOMETHING IN THE LIGHT. I've read a couple bios of Chandler. It helps if the biographer is a fan.