You most likely know by now that Raymond Chandler is my favorite author. I go into occasional rhapsodies about his startlingly delightful writing style. I've reviewed several of his novels here. I mention him a lot.
But I really didn't know much about him before now. I knew a few things, like that he grew up in England. And that he wrote some screenplays. That was about it.
I must admit that I shy away from biographies of people whose work I really admire. I'm afraid that I'll learn something about them that will taint the way I view their creative work, be it books or movies or songs or whatever, and then I'll never be able to enjoy those things again.
However, the subtitle here, "In His Own Words," made me feel like this might not shatter my love of his writing. And happily, I was right! Editor Barry Day provides a basic framework and the connective explanations needed to make this coherent, but 95% of the words in this book are Chandler's not Day's. Through them, we begin to see a deeply unhappy man who never found as much acceptance or approval as he craved, but who stubbornly insisted on writing and living his own way anyway. I can respect him for that.
Particularly Good Bits:
In retrospect one can see that from the outset Marlowe had a dimension that Spade and the others lacked. He was a realist instead of a cynic, and he was cursed with a brand of idealism that would draw him irresistibly down the meanest of mean streets (p. 48).
If This Was a Movie, I Would Rate It: PG-13 for occasional language, discussion of some of Chandler's less savory story elements, and lots of alcohol use.