I couldn't agree with you more, mrt. I think the level of attention he
gave every aspect of this novel, from plotting (which may seem loose at
first, but has a dream-like coherence) to character development, is
unsurpassed in his work or that of any other writer. The title seems
intentional, and I think he gave it his all because he intended the
novel to be his swan song. He was encouraged by friends (and agents)
to pick up the pen again, in part to get him out of his funk, but
everything from this point on reads like his heart wasn't in it. I
don't know if he "spoiled the PI novel" for every writer who came
after, but he did set the bar (almost) impossibly high.
Once again, circumstances (scarcity of reading material) forced me to
reread this Chandler novel, which some of you may have heard about
(and there is an obscure, little-discussed movie of it, too).
Well, what can I say. It's fucking brilliant, or should I say
"nutting" brilliant, since the nuts are now apparently non-television
material. I used to prefer The Big Sleep to the other Chandler novels,
but now I have to rank TLG at the top. Chandler was in sensational
form here. Too bad he wrote nothing good after this masterpiece. He
really did spoil the classic PI novel for every writer who came after him.
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