Re: RARA-AVIS: The Chandler / Hammett Ellroy-inspired debate

From: Patrick King (
Date: 20 Jun 2010

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    Marlowe has a ridiculous degree of success with women in this one, but not quite so utterly ridiculous as in "Playback" which I also enjoyed, but for me wins hands down in any contest to find his weakest work.


    Marlowe is always ridiculously successful with women. Chandler pretty well set the standard for the playboy detective with Marlowe. Admittedly, Marlowe seldom takes real advantage of his opportunities to the extent James Bond did for example. But from THE BIG SLEEP on, nearly every attractive woman in every book seems to find Marlowe irresistible. Chandler was a bit of a priss when it came to actually engaging his characters in sex. He was much less of a priss in real life, losing one good job and undermining his marriage at least 3 times to his philandering nature. This is curious as it seems he was unable to function without his wife's input and he withered each time she left him.

    I suspect that the more torrid sex in THE LONG GOODBYE & PLAYBACK were encouraged and requested by his publisher. Certainly it was becoming clear that readers liked that vicarious thrill. It's strongly implied in FAREWELL MY LOVELY that Marlowe's relationship with Anne Riordan is sexual. There can be no doubt about Linda Loring or Betty Mayfield in LGB & PB.

    The memory of young Carmen Sternwood showing up naked in his bed in THE BIG SLEEP, however, tells it to us right at the beginning. The fact that he threw her out just makes him a tougher man than I am.

    Patrick King


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