View Full Version : MobileRead Discussion: The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler


pilotbob
08-20-2010, 03:35 PM
So... what did you think?

BOb

Quake1028
08-20-2010, 04:16 PM
Well, I for one was really disappointed in the book. Not in the sense that I had ever read Chandler and was let down that way, because I had not. I was disappointed because I had heard good things about the author not only here, but other sites as well. My main complaints with the book:

1.It seemed to me to be disjointed and all over the place. I know everything eventually came back to Lennox/Marston, but it took it's sweet time getting there and took a lot of twists and turns along the way. By the time of the big reveal, I didn't care that Lennox/Marston was still alive. I just wanted the damn book to be over with. Heck, I would have been happy with it ending after the murder and the suicide of the writer and his wife.

2.I didn't care for a single character in the book, outside of Marlowe. Now, maybe that was the only person I was meant to care about, but it still kept me from really connecting with the material. I guess in the end maybe I didn't care about Marlowe that much, either, because I had a hard time motivating myself to pick up the book and continue reading. A book of this size usually takes me about 2-3 days to get through, this one took me 14 days. I just didn't have any urgency to go forward with the story more than an hour or so at a time. I think not connecting with any of the characters and the story being all over the place and not really feeling cohesive were big contributing factors to this.

In the end, I can't give this book any more than *1/2 or ** out of ****. I just found it a tedious, arduous task to even finish the book. At several points I wanted to quit, but I kept with it for two reasons: to see if it got better, and so I could discuss it here.

thinkpad
08-20-2010, 04:27 PM
Well, I for one was really disappointed in the book. Not in the sense that I had ever read Chandler and was let down that way, because I had not. I was disappointed because I had heard good things about the author not only here, but other sites as well.

Amen to that that. I felt exactly the same. This book has been praised to the skies on Amazon and for what. I was expecting a masterpiece, instead I regretted spending money to get it.

I didn't feel with any of the characters and the book gave me very little. The book felt melancholic all the way through to the end.

This was my first book by Chandler and probably my last.

bjones6416
08-20-2010, 08:10 PM
Eh, I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it either. I put it down a couple of times and read something else, then picked it back up. I just finished it about an hour ago.

What really struck me was that, as a woman, I didn't connect with any of the female characters AT ALL. They were just paper dolls or something. The story was pretty good, but I was handicapped by not being familiar with some of the "tough guy" lingo and the fact that this genre really isn't my cup of tea. I would have liked for Marlowe and Lennox to be friends at the end, but I really didn't expect an upbeat ending.

I doubt I'll read another Marlowe book, but I'm not sorry I read this one. It might even inspire me to do a little research on that place and time.

SensualPoet
08-20-2010, 09:46 PM
What really struck me was that, as a woman, I didn't connect with any of the female characters AT ALL. They were just paper dolls or something.

My guess is you'd find that with all seven of the Chandler Marlowe's; he often lavishes much more detail, sympathy and motivation on relatively minor male characters than he does on leading women in the plots.

Chandler's writing is witty, obtuse, clever, interior ... great qualities if you love "a good read". Chandler's works are among those that I don't want to end; they are steeped in their own juices.

If you don't like Chandler, you probably won't like Robert B Parker's Spencer series, either. Unlike many others, Parker's "gumshoe" is not derivative of Chandler, but more a reimagining. They have style, cleverness, unexpected humour and asides ... and are fine "good reads".

jgaiser
08-20-2010, 10:42 PM
Aren't taste funny?

I engulfed the book in less that a week of on and off reading. Stayed up late the last night to finish it. This is only my second Chandler (first was "The Big Sleep") and so far I consider it the best.

recluse
08-20-2010, 11:27 PM
Excellent example of classic noir.
No one could write like Chandler.
Only Andrew Vachss and Cornell Woolrich come close.

lila55
08-21-2010, 03:40 AM
"The Long Goodbye" was quite enjoyable for me while I was reading it, at times I even found myself glued to it and could not put it down (so, many times better than "The 39 Steps", which we read some months ago :)), but it is one of those books that I could pick up again a year from now and it would seem like I never read it, as opposed to others that stick with me - as does "The Book Thief", for example.

Ea
08-21-2010, 03:43 PM
Not that far into it yet, I'm afraid (been a little side-lined by life stuff, I feel), but so far I'd call it 'okay'. I remember reading this about - um? - 15-20 years ago, when I was practically a teenager and loved crime fiction. I remembered Chandler's novels as good, but today I have a somewhat different view of what constitutes good writing, so I felt apprehensive about reading this. Fortunately my fears were easy to lay to rest. I still like the style of those well-placed one-liners. The overall pace of the story, the story itself, somehow fails to grab me. Though... I'm not sure it should all be blamed on Mr. Chandler - at least as far as I'm concerned.

Chandler can do something special with language and writing that I don't feel has diminished at all since this was written.

DixieGal
08-21-2010, 06:33 PM
I really enjoyed it, but so far I seem to be in the minority. However, I knew what to expect. In college working on my lit degree, I took a semester of detective fiction. The Long Goodbye was new to me, but I have read a bunch of Chandler and noir fiction.

The things that I liked most were the insights into Chandler's mind and his thought on the act of writing. I wonder if these were serious musings or self-deprecating humor? (I am too lazy to research it.). I found myself bookmarking those passages where he ponders writers and writing.

Was this book ever serialized? Because each episode could easily have been a stand-alone

Sure, the women were flat and sketchy. In this book, they are just furniture, decorative and someplace to hang a few plot points. Nothing suggests they matter at all, which is typical of detective fiction from that period. Also notice that the corpses are just left and ignored. Again, merely a tool to move the plot along.

Overall, I liked it and devoured it in two days.

voodoo_pepperweb
08-22-2010, 01:43 PM
I really liked this. There were some great lines. I was inspired to use Stanza to post some quotes on Facebook. I don't usually do much with Facebook, but this seemed worthwhile.

I really didn't get what was going on in Eileen Wade's head. She knew Terry/Paul wasn't the same man anymore and they couldn't reclaim what they had. So why did she feel like murdering Sylvia and her husband?

Quake1028
08-22-2010, 06:16 PM
I thought the book explained that she murdered Sylvia because she had taken two men from her, and killed Mr. Wade because he knew or was starting to remember what happened.

thinkpad
08-23-2010, 03:13 AM
Chandler can do something special with language and writing that I don't feel has diminished at all since this was written.
Words and the way of writing is very important, but I feel it's not enough. Words needs to be backed up by a good story or I could have just read some poem or prose. I never felt captivated by the story and didn't feel for any of the characters. I guess I'm just not a fan of Noir writing.

Donnageddon
08-23-2010, 04:17 AM
When Chandler wrote, the keys on his typewriter hammered the paper like a hopped up conga player fighting for his life against the flight of the bumblebee.

And regarding "plot", as Chandler said himself "When in doubt, have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand".

Man, I love Chandler.

beppe
08-23-2010, 05:01 AM
The theme that I love most in all of Chandler's is the under dog that never lets go and is loyal to his friends.

CharlieBird
08-23-2010, 02:53 PM
I liked it better than The Big Sleep (have yet to finish it), but after about the midway point it was all downhill for me. I recall mostly having a problem comprehending the ending. Have to admit I not infrequently feel this way after finishing a mystery so that probably isn't a fault of Chandler and a reason I'm not a diehard mystery fan.

Putting it succinctly, I totally agree w/every negative mentioned so far and I'm sure with any yet to come.

I'll never know of this is the best Chandler book because I surely won't read another.
d

MickeyC
08-25-2010, 01:01 PM
Just finished this one. Good read but overly long getting to the point. Did like the ending.

crich70
08-25-2010, 01:24 PM
I don't think you're supposed to really connect with the female characters in Chandler's books. I remember A&E had his Biography on tv some time back and one man who discussed his works said something to the effect that the women in Chandler's books are basically psychopaths. In his own life Chandler married a woman quite a bit older than he and he might have had a fear of women to an extent. He was born in 1888 remember, the end of the Victorian era. There is also the fact that "The Long Goodbye" was written during the time of his wife's last illness. So he was dealing with depression and drinking while writing.
Eh, I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it either. I put it down a couple of times and read something else, then picked it back up. I just finished it about an hour ago.

What really struck me was that, as a woman, I didn't connect with any of the female characters AT ALL. They were just paper dolls or something. The story was pretty good, but I was handicapped by not being familiar with some of the "tough guy" lingo and the fact that this genre really isn't my cup of tea. I would have liked for Marlowe and Lennox to be friends at the end, but I really didn't expect an upbeat ending.

I doubt I'll read another Marlowe book, but I'm not sorry I read this one. It might even inspire me to do a little research on that place and time.

Donnageddon
08-25-2010, 01:27 PM
Just finished this one. Good read but overly long getting to the point. Did like the ending.

I find that with Chandler, I don't worry about the end. It is all the wondrous weaving, dodging, fascinating characters, oddball scenes and vivid descriptions that capture me. His words just roll on the mind's tongue like a smokey brandy.

GA Russell
10-03-2010, 07:48 PM
I've been quite busy the past couple of months, and just finished this today. I found the first 1/3 slow going, but the rest hard to put down.

Years ago I read someone say that with Chandler after you've read a book, you're still not sure who did it and what happened. In this case, it is not clear to me why Terry left the country and faked his own death. He said in the last chapter that he was in a jam, but what was the jam?

For me, Chandler is all about the mood, not the plot. That is even more true with Ross MacDonald, who wrote the same book over and over.

I have read a great many Chandler short stories since the first of the year, all of which were written before his Marlowe novels. The Long Goodbye was his last work. I was surprised that I did not find his writing much improved after twenty years in the business. I intend to continue on with his short stories and other novels in the near future.

By the way, I was surprised that here Marlowe engaged in sexual activity. I read all of Chandler's works in 1973, and I didn't recall any of that.

doreenjoy
10-04-2010, 12:05 AM
Chandler can do something special with language and writing that I don't feel has diminished at all since this was written.

I agree.

One thing I especially admire is how Chandler gets into the point-of-view character's head and tells us only what that character would notice. There's no "author intrusion", no long summaries. It's tight writing.

And, it might contribute to the "who the heck did it?" factor others have mentioned. If Marlowe doesn't care who killed the chauffeur in The Big Sleep, the reader will never find out either.