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The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
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The Big Sleep (original 1939; edition 2008)

by Raymond Chandler

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6,471169592 (3.99)462
Member:adithyajones
Title:The Big Sleep
Authors:Raymond Chandler
Info:Penguin (2008), Paperback
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
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The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (1939)

1930s (6)
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Showing 1-5 of 162 (next | show all)
The Big Sleep–The Book: We all know the movie The Big Sleep based on Raymond Chandler’s book. The main story in the movie basically follows the book so I won’t repeat it. Here are my thoughts on the book. (I’m going to watch the movie tonight and compare.)

I love the way Raymond Chandler writes. His descriptions are unique. Such as the way he describes approaching General Sternwood’s house.

“The main hallway of the Sternwood place was two stories high. Over the entrance doors, which would let in a troop of Indian elephants, there was a broad stained-glass panel showing a knight in dark armor rescuing a lady who was tied to a tree and didn’t have any clothes on but some very long and convenient hair. The knight had pushed the vizor of his helmet back to be sociable, and he was fiddling with the knots on the ropes that tied the lady to the tree and not getting anywhere. I stood there and I thought that if I lived in the house, I would sooner or later have to climb up there and help him. He didn’t seem to be really trying.”

Or the way he describes Carmen Sternwood’s teeth, “…she had little sharp predatory teeth, as white as fresh orange pith and as shiny as porcelain.”

While his dialogue can be captured on film, his descriptive language cannot, even if sets were created that mirrored his thoughts.

However, his use of similes throughout the 231 pages of The Big Sleep became somewhat monotonous towards the end. (I never thought I’d say that about Chandler’s writing.) I will also admit that the story was confusing at times. This took nothing away from my reading enjoyment, however.

The characters in The Big Sleep run the gamut of pulp mystery stereotypes; the rich Sternwoods, the sophisticated racketeer and the grungy low lifes. The Sternwood sisters are described to perfection, the more adult, manipulative Vivian as compared to the childish, naïve Carmen, the old dying General Sternwood confined to his hot house and wheelchair and, of course, Philip Marlowe, wisecracking as always. BigsleepTheMovieThe casting of the film was perfect and since we’ve all seen the movie, readers will picture Lauren Bacall and Martha Vickers as the sisters. Charles Waldron is a perfect General Sternwood. Philip Marlowe is Humphrey Bogart (or vice versa), the wisecracking, honest, ethical private detective.

One thing I did notice, in this age of enlightenment, the manner in which Chandler refers to homosexuals would cause a major backlash among the gay community. (All references to homosexuality were absent from the movie.)

All in all, reading The Big Sleep one realizes why it is pulp mystery classic as well as a classic mystery, in general. An all around enjoyable time was had by this reader!

The Big Sleep–The Movie: The Big Sleep is still another case of the book being better than the movie, regardless of how great the movie is. As I mentioned earlier, you can’t capture Chandler’s descriptive language on film…despite the fact that the movie script was written by William Faulkner. There were also a few puzzling points. (Have to have seen the movie or read the book to understand most of my comments.)

1. In the book, Vivian is married to Sean Regan who disappears, supposedly with the wife of Eddie Mars. However, in the movie, Vivian is married to a Mr. Rutledge, who never appears in the movie, nor is he mentioned. Sean Regan, who still disappears, supposedly with Eddie Mars’ wife, is hired help at the Sternwood mansion. I can’t imagine why this change, since it affects nothing.

2. In the book, Mr. Geiger, who held gambling notes signed by Carmen, was in a seamy business, running a pornography lending library. Thus when Marlowe notices that after Geiger’s death someone was moving all the books to take over the business, it made sense. This was quite confusing in the movie, as Geiger’s occupation was just hinted at.

3. Regan’s ultimate demise in the book was explained quite nicely while in the movie it was obscure.

4. And finally, with stars like Bogart and Bacall, one realizes they had to be a love interest in the movie. However, in the book, they were quite cool to each other and there was no hint of them running off into the sunset. I like the book better on this score. Even an ending like that in the Maltese Falcon where Sam Spade might be in love with Brigid O’Shaunessey but she’s got to pay for her crime would have been a better ending than Vivian and Marlowe declaring their undying love. It would have been a more fitting pulp mystery ending.

So, if I had to rate the book and the movie, The Big Sleep, the book, rates a 5+ and the movie a 5-. Both first rate, but in different ways. ( )
  EdGoldberg | May 1, 2015 |
I like the cut of Chandler's jib: a base murk of deadpan patter with streaks of something bordering on fancy, with its classic overripe metaphors; with its struggle to maintain hard-man drag, or hard-man-born-to-lose-with-the-sensitive-soul-of-a-poet drag, when all Chandler really wants to talk about is the furnishings, at length, their materials and styles and construction, dear god the furnishings; and then a few grace notes of gutter-looking-at-the-stars stuff. The square-jawed, soulful, and genteelly closeted are at strife in this book and the result is something fun to see (tho gays and women all come in for a kicking in various ways) , reminding me more of decayed-Hollywood movie--Chinatown, sure, but also like Sunset Boulevard and Mulholland Drive--than of archetypical "noir." But of course American/British/Canadian translatlantic public schoolboy Chandler and his man Marlowe (named after great-great-great-etc.-grandfather Kit) started noir and gave it its raffish side. ( )
1 vote MeditationesMartini | Apr 23, 2015 |
The Big Sleep has a neatly woven plot that moves forward at a good pace with rich characters and superb dialogue.
It's an outstanding debut novel, that set the standard for hard-boiled, down on their luck detectives, and sensual, cynical dames. ( )
  ajsendall | Apr 5, 2015 |
The Big Sleep has a neatly woven plot that moves forward at a good pace with rich characters and superb dialogue.
It's an outstanding debut novel, that set the standard for hard-boiled, down on their luck detectives, and sensual, cynical dames. ( )
  ajsendall | Apr 5, 2015 |
Pretty early on I could tell this book was not for me. I thought I would love the noir style of writing but I hated it and half way through I had to give up. Life is too short to persevere with books you just don't like. ( )
  KittyBimble | Feb 12, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (55 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Raymond Chandlerprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Del Buono, OresteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gould, ElliottNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kidder, HarveyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ortlepp, GunarTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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It was about eleven o'clock in the morning, mid October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills.
Quotations
Such a lot of guns around town, and so few brains.
Whoever had done it had meant business. Dead men are heavier than broken hearts.
It had the austere simplicity of fiction rather than the tangled woof of fact.
What did it matter where you lay once you were dead? In a dirty sump or in a marble tower on top of a high hill? You were dead, you were sleeping the big sleep, you were not bothered by things like that. Oil and water were the same as wind and air to you. You just slept the big sleep, not caring about the nastiness of how you died or where you fell.
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Book description
Plot Summary: The decrepit General Sternwood hires Detective Marlowe to investigate Geiger, the man who is blackmailing him. Marlowe discovers Geiger is running a pornography lending library under the front of an antique book store. Marlowe tries to confront Geiger, but finds Geiger dead along with evidence that Geiger has been taking nude photos of Sternwood’s youngest daughter Carmen. While Marlowe takes the drugged Carmen home, Geiger’s body disappears along with the photographic evidence. As one murder leads to another, Marlowe must follow the clues to protect the Sternwood family from its own dark secrets.
Appeal Factors: Private investigator subgenre. Narrated in the first-person by Marlowe. Primary characters are complex. The atmosphere is dark and brooding. The frame highlights the dark underbelly of L.A. The language is succinct, but very descriptive; powerful, gritty and realistic. Action scenes are suspenseful and fairly fast-paced, with space for reflection in between. The reader is drawn in as Marlowe uncovers each new layer of clues. Violent, but not graphic.
Haiku summary
General's daughters
are handful for Marlowe.....but
who did slay chauffeur?
(abbottthomas)

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0394758285, Paperback)

"His thin, claw-like hands were folded loosely on the rug, purple-nailed. A few locks of dry white hair clung to his scalp, like wild flowers fighting for life on a bare rock." Published in 1939, when Raymond Chandler was 50, this is the first of the Philip Marlowe novels. Its bursts of sex, violence, and explosively direct prose changed detective fiction forever. "She was trouble. She was tall and rangy and strong-looking. Her hair was black and wiry and parted in the middle. She had a good mouth and a good chin. There was a sulky droop to her lips and the lower lip was full."

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:46:48 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

When a case of blackmail involving the daughter of a California millionaire leads to murder, the inimitable Philip Marlowe is stirred into action as he becomes embroiled in a troublesome case of extortion complicated by kidnapping, pornography, seduction, and murder.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 6 descriptions

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3 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

3 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140108920, 014118261X, 0141037598

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