Saturday, November 27, 2010

November's books

#25, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, and #26, The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

Never Let Me Go is a frightening and moving novel that seems both science fiction and an accurate rendering of the me-centered people we have become. It is now a movie, which I haven't seen, but when I came across this book in 2005, through a friend's recommendation, I read it in a single day. Coud not put it down.

There are three parts, about three children who grow up. I can't really tell you anything about them except that they are British, without giving you a spoiler. And the fact is, the truth of the sotry ahs to creep over you, through Ishiguro's amazing ability to keep you reading despite not knowing what the hell is going on... and the growing fear that it is... I'll stop there.

I am now afraid to read any of Ishiguro's other works, because this one was too powerful. Great testament, isn't it?

Despite that, I highly recommend it.

The Big Sleep is only one of Chandler's few novels. Too few, in my opinion, but it obviously took Chandler a great deal of time to write a complete novel. We should be grateful (and I am) for the handful he left us.

Of course, The Big Sleep features Philip Marlowe, Chandler's most famous detective, living in L.A. during the 30s, 40s, and 50s... when it was something other than the sprawling mega-entertainment mecca it is now, When it was, in fact, in transition. 

Chandler is a fine writer: detailed, exact, and precise, he captures an era and a society that have passed away, other than in period films. His descriptions of the crooks, molls, moguls, wealthy, and down-and-out that pass through Marlowe's life are crisp and compelling; his plots are tightly twisted, surprising, and logical, in the world of illogic and chaos that is moderntity. Although his works were first published in pulp magazines, his writing transcended that. Marlowe is the American version of the alienated man of modern fiction, different from Sam Spade, Dashiell Hammet's detective and Marlowe's peer, because he has no secretary, no partner, no long-time girlfriend, no sidekick.

I also love Chandler's short stories, and especially the collection Trouble is My Business... I only because I wish I could say that when I meet new people: "Hi, I'm Pearl and trouble is my business." "What do I do, you ask? Trouble is my business."  Just for fun.

If you seek good, tight writing and a thrill, read Chandler. Warning: Like Ishiguro, the moral and ethical complications of the life lived in the novel is not easy to take.

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