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Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler

Farewell, My Lovely (1940)

by Raymond Chandler

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Philip Marlowe (2)

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Showing 1-5 of 45 (next | show all)
What a confusing and overly flowery story.
The core is not too bad of an idea, but I had the feeling that Chandler
tried to make this into a novella when it would have been better of as
a short story. His overuse of flavour text was getting quite annoying
towards the end and gave me a really hard time to even finish this
book. A lot of the descriptions did not add to the atmosphere of the
story, on the contrary it distracted from what was going. The case
itself was solved within two pages at the end without much real
sleuthing going on even though Marlow was running around like crazy,
getting into trouble only to hear in the end that he knew more or less
all along who the culprit was. A very uninspired story all in all. ( )
  Black-Lilly | Apr 4, 2014 |
“I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance. I needed a vacation, I needed a home in the country. What I had was a coat, a hat and a gun. I put them on and went out of the room.”

While working a missing persons case, Detective Philip Marlowe finds himself drawn into a murder investigation. Jailbird Moose Malloy knocks off the proprietor of a local watering hole in his pursuit of a gal named Velma. While assisting the cops in hunting him down, Marlowe backs off the case when he realizes he won’t be paid for his efforts. However it’s not long before another job falls in his lap when Marlowe is hired to accompany a man in a money-for-jewelry trade off. When his employer is tucked in for the big sleep, Marlowe tries to piece the crime together, taking a few lumps in the process.

As abrasive as a sheet of sandpaper coated in shattered glass, Philip Marlowe isn’t one to check his attitude at the door. He’s also an alcoholic, a racist, and unapologetically hardheaded. With all these character flaws, why is Raymond Chandler’s signature series so damn enjoyable? It probably has something to do with Chandler’s endlessly quotable prose.

The backbone of any story worth reading is the way the author’s prose plays out on the page. You could have the most exciting plot imaginable but if the writing isn't up to snuff, it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on, but sometimes an author can be so good that the plot is almost secondary. The true joy can come from random musings about life, death and everything in between or even the exceptional way an author crafts a setting or describes a character. Raymond Chandler is one such author and while the case surrounding Farewell, My Lovely isn't particularly outstanding, he is certainly a masterful storyteller.

Throughout the story, Chandler takes the reader in a multitude of directions and when Marlowe makes any sort of headway, a new element is introduced thus changing the case. It’s often a wonder Marlowe gets anything done when half the time he’s soaking himself in bourbon while seemingly trying to burn bridges with his smarmy attitude and general distaste for anyone he meets.

Farewell, My Lovely is an excellent novel and a more than worthy follow up to The Big Sleep. Chandler’s Philip Marlowe is one hell of an interesting character leaving me sad to know there are only six books in the series.

Also posted @ Every Read Thing ( )
  branimal | Apr 1, 2014 |
After reading two of his novels now, I'm beginning to like Raymond Chandler much more for his writing than for his plots. For anyone who thinks crime fiction has no place in the literary world, the Marlowe novels might make you change your mind. Chandler's an amazing writer when it comes to social commentary, the similes, metaphors and the sharp, electric prose he's famous for, and of course, his superb depiction of the city of angels of the 1940s that is so lifelike you almost feel that you're along with him for the ride. The novels are also a way for Chandler to examine American society of the time.

While I am not much of an analyst when it comes to reading -- a) there are a huge number of analyses of Chandler and his writing all over the place and b)I'm just not good at it so don't pretend to be -- one thing I particularly noticed in my reading was Chandler's use of the color red. To me, where ever Chandler focused on mentioning red, some kind of danger -- emotional or physical -- was nearby. Velma, Malloy's old sweetheart, was a redhead. Anne Riordan, daughter of an ex-police chief and an ally of Marlowe's in this book, is also a redhead. He likes her enough to keep some of the worst details from her and finds himself thinking about how her apartment would be a "nice room to wear slippers in." He watches a red neon light flashing in the hotel room where he stays just before getting on the water taxi to go out to the gambling boat. He meets ex-cop and boat driver Red Noorgan, with "hair the shade of red that glints with gold," who has "Violet eyes. Almost purple. Eyes like a girl, a lovely girl," with skin Marlowe describes as "soft as silk" and a voice that was "soft, dreamy, so delicate for a big man that it was startling. It made me think of another soft-voiced big man I had strangely liked." There are likely more instances, but I found the use of red quite interesting here.

The mystery plots that eventually tie together are a little clunky, but I loved this novel and I wish I had read these books long before now. The writing alone is worth working through the convoluted plotlines, but most of all I love the character of Marlowe. As I found in The Big Sleep, he's a knight of sorts in a city where knights don't really have a place -- and I really like that about him. FYI -- this book was written in the 1940s so you're going to encounter some pretty ugly racial slurs and racist attitudes as you read. That sort of stuff is a bit shocking, but considering the times, not so unusual for back then.

definitely recommended -- now on to the third Marlowe novel. ( )
  bcquinnsmom | Feb 10, 2014 |
Raymond Chandler presents a story that a man would enjoy reading due to the rough and tough language. Many of the phrases left me wondering about the meaning. Many African Americans would take offense at Chandler's language such as a dinge or a shine killing. Chandler ranks premiere in his description of characters and settings, plus he does not fill pages with conversation. Many readers skim over the description and read only the conversation and miss the essence of the story. Philip Marlowe shines as a basically good man who prods through life at his own pace. The story shows love as in the constant love of Moose Malloy for his treacherous girlfriend, Velma Valento. Also, we have Marlowe given the sexual opportunity with two gorgeous women and he passes at each chance. The story presents many interesting facets of life in California in the early 1940’s. ( )
  delphimo | Oct 13, 2013 |
Like the other Marlowe books, Farewell, My Lovely helped to shape a genre that still pervades American culture. This one has the template for the PI-female-journalist-type teamup, the lazy cop who gets said PI to do all the dirty work, and the insouciant, backtalking, oft-punched, hardboiled PI. It also has that indescribable sense of isolation and loneliness, that of a solitary man walking upright down the dark streets, that I have never really encountered outside of Chandler's works.

However, this has got to be one of the most racist, sexist, and homophobic books out there. We start with Phillip Marlowe entering a segregated bar reserved for African-Americans. The first African-American we meet is described as "it"--apparently he doesn't even get to have a male pronoun. We also have a totally racist description of a smelly, pigion-English speaking Native American and a set of incredibly homophobic descriptions of a "handsome" man--although since there are theories that Chandler himself leaned a bit that way, it may be a bit of a reaction.

What I hate most is that the first murder--that of an African American--apparently doesn't count at all. This is stated explicitly throughout the book, and it's not just a comment on society; Marlowe himself appears equally dismissive. It is horrifying to read of such dehumanizing racism being treated as commonplace.

It also has some of the most egregious bits of Marlowe's femme-fatale magnetism in the series:

"What's your name?"
"Kiss me."

Interestingly, despite the (as always) female villains, femme fatales, and damsels in distress, this may have the closest the series has to an intelligent, almost equal female character. Ann Riordan plays girl friday to Marlowe--an assisting role--but she is obviously both intelligent and coolheaded.

One of the reasons I like this one is that Marlowe is WAY more fallible than he was in Big Sleep. Oddly, he's apparently gotten handsomer--more people describe him as good-looking -- but he makes a bunch of idiotic mistakes, gets beaten up quite a bit, and gets hypnotized and given opium(?) and scopolamine, with amusing results.

Chandler's descriptions of both men and women are physical and sensual: he takes note of smoothness of skin, tapered and beautiful fingers, color of eyes, rounded lips, etc of both men and women, and the physical closeness even during a struggle. Although Chandler is virulently homophobic, there is some school of thought (including some of his contemporaries and friends) who considered him to be a repressed homosexual.

Some quotes that really make you wonder:

He held my gun in his delicate, lovely hand...He smiled, so beautifully....a
thin beautiful devil with my gun in his hand watching me and smiling.

His voice was soft, dreamy, so delicate for a big man that it was startling. It made me think of another soft-voiced big man I had strangely liked.

He had the eyes you never see, that you only read about. Violet eyes. Almost purple. Eyes like a girl, a lovely girl. His skin was soft as silk. Lightly reddened, but it would never tan. It was too delicate...I told him a great deal more than I intended to. It must have been his eyes.

Red leaned close to me and his breath tickled my ear...put his lips against my ear...took hold of my hand. His was strong, hard, warm and slightly sticky.

He was a dark, good-looking lad, with plenty of shoulders and shiny smooth hair and the peak on his rakish cap made a soft shadow over his eyes...His eyes gleamed like water...That put me about a foot from him. He had a nice breath.

He had a cat's smile, but I like cats...his eyes held a delicate menace...he had nice hands, not baby to the point of insipidity, but well-kept.

Marlowe is really not at all like Humphrey Bogart. Marlowe's appearance is hypermasculine--6ft, dark, large-framed, and either quite muscular or kind of chunky--he's 190 lb. He is also quite taciturn; most of the sarcastic comments happen inside his head...until, of course, he's given scopolamine, when he starts talking quite a bit. Does this hypermasculinity, the tough guy attitude that pervades Marlowe's every action, stem from a desire to create a character who is indubitably heterosexual?

Perhaps this is the depth that Chandler brings to the novel: the unique loneliness he creates, that every other noir story has tried and failed to capture, is not just the loneliness of a bruised, broken, tarnished, but still chivalric knight walking the mean streets. It is also the unvoiced isolation of a man who cannot fit into his culture, who must keep himself under tight control and never allow his passions and his desire for intimacy to surface.

Perhaps it also explains the virulent sexism of the novels. All of the books have a female villain, a character that Marlowe sees initially as a damsel in distress and tries to protect, but who ends up revealing herself as an amoral femme fatale who breaks and discards the men around her like used paper cups. There is always a sense of deep betrayal, a sense that Marlowe has been personally let down by the women around him. This very sharp sense of aggrievedness might stem from Chandler's own sense of betrayal by the women of his world: they have failed to be as desirable as his illicit desire for men.

The book also has some examples of Chandler's genius with language:

Dead men are heavier than broken hearts.

The room was as black as Carrie Nation's bonnet.

Darkness prowled slowly on the hills.

I used my knee on his face. It hurt my knee. He didn't tell me whether it hurt his face.

But the most intriguing question, to me at least: does the quintessentially "Hetero-He-Man" genre of detective noir owe its beginnings to the writings of a man struggling with his own homosexuality? ( )
  page.fault | Sep 21, 2013 |
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Book description
Marlowe's about to give up on a completely routine case when he finds himself in the wrong place at the right time to get caught up in a murder that leads to a ring of jewel thieves, another murder, a fortune-teller, a couple more murders, and more corruption than your average graveyard.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0394758277, Paperback)

Marlowe's about to give up on a completely routine case when he finds himself in the wrong place at the right time to get caught up in a murder that leads to a ring of jewel thieves, another murder, a fortune-teller, a couple more murders, and more corruption than your average graveyard.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:47:50 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Moose Malloy, a six-foot-five giant just out of prison, gets detective Philip Marlowe involved in his seemingly hopeless search for Velma, his missing girlfriend.

» see all 6 descriptions

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