The Long Goodbye, by Raymond Chandler, was a One Book One Chicago pick last year. I find it an interesting choice, in that these book club picks generally have something to say about race relations or the immigrant experience of one culture group or another. Chandler doesn’t even write about Chicago. I can’t figure out why it was chosen other than it rocks.
So Chandler’s (anti) hero, Philip Marlowe, gets sucked into to a multi-death mystery. It was never much of a paid assignment for him, and Marlowe picks and chooses what he shares with the cops, so part of the fun is trying to figure out where his moral compass actually points. It isn’t quite Right and Wrong, but he does pursue truth. It might have just been for his own amusement, but justice is pretty well served by the time he is finished.
The other interesting question is what he actually thinks of women. Chandler spends an entire page describing sterotypes of women with blonde hair before deciding the one he was looking at was none of them. But you can’t really call him misogynist when he is just as contemptuous of so many men. This line, to the drunk writer (a suspect) is:
“Nothing to get sore about. I’m just listening to you hate yourself. It’s boring but it doesn’t hurt my feelings.”
I can appreciate that.
Compared to the Chandler novels I’ve read before, this was a rather long and complicated plot. But I certainly followed it to the end.