Thursday, March 26, 2009

Everything’s Coming up Chandler

Just over a week ago, we launched a poll in The Rap Sheet to determine which of Raymond Chandler’s seven original Philip Marlowe novels our readers think is his finest. (We chose not to include the posthumous work Poodle Springs, which Chandler began writing back in 1959, but which was completed by Robert B. Parker and published in 1989, 30 years after Chandler’s demise.) Today, we have the results of that survey.

In total, 178 votes were cast, with The Long Goodbye (1953) receiving the greatest number--55, or 31 percent. In second place, with 25 percent of the vote, we find The Big Sleep (1939), which is rather surprising, given how often readers remark on that story’s confusing plot. Third place in this poll goes to Farewell, My Lovely (1940), with 22 percent. The other four contenders rank downward from there: The Little Sister (1949), 10 percent; The Lady in the Lake (1943), 8 percent; and The High Window (1949) and Playback (1958), both with 2 percent of the vote (though The High Window edges out Playback with one more vote).

Thank you to everybody for participating in this poll.

In case you haven’t noticed yet, the crime-fiction blogosphere today offers up a variety of tributes to Chandler and his famous fictional private eye. Sarah Weinman points us to a few choice posts, including biographer Judith Freeman’s excellent review of the author’s life and career in L.A. Weekly, Baltimore Sun writer David Rosenthal’s fill-in-the-blanks quiz on Chandler’s trademark descriptive phrases, Utter Scoundrel’s re-reading of Playback, and Chris Routledge’s recollection of this novelist’s early life. And although we chose to ignore Poodle Springs, Gregory McNamee gives credit to that “lost” novel in the Encyclopedia Britannica blog.

One more treat to enjoy today: Here is the Los Angeles Times’ obituary of Chandler from 1959. It’s pretty short for a guy who made such a big impact on fiction.

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