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379 pages, Paperback
First published January 1, 1953
Alcohol is like love...The first kiss is magic, the second is intimate, the third is routine. After that you take the girl’s clothes off.¹
Maybe I was tired and irritable. Maybe I felt a little guilty. I could learn to hate this guy without even knowing him. I could just look at him across the width of a cafeteria and want to kick his teeth inThe relationship between him and Ohl has soured a bit, both of them really elbowing the other in the ribs with more force and sadistic pleasure, with Ohl no longer a chain-smoker but constantly rubbing an unlit cigarette between his lips. What has not changed is the insight into Los Angeles and Hollywood, blossoming now into subtle jabs of social insight with Marlowe looking down at all the socialites as their sins and flaws seem to define them. The Long Goodbye reads almost like a western where the territory is wild and untamed and crime running rampant not as a driving force but as a symptom of the American lifestyle we have let cultivate itself. Power and greed and evil are seen here as byproducts of a society ruled by its own fear and vice, and Marlowe must navigate these deadly waters to uphold the good names of himself and those he cares about.
“The tragedy of life, Howard, is not that the beautiful die young, but that they grow old and mean. It will not happen to me.”
“A man who drinks too much on occasion is still the same man as he was sober. An alcoholic, a real alcoholic, is not the same man at all. You can’t predict anything about him for sure except that he will be someone you never met before.”
He wanted to talk and he couldn't have stopped even if he hadn't really wanted to talk...you knew that he got up on the bottle and only let go of it when he fell asleep at night. He would be like that for the rest of his life and that was what his life was. You would never know how he got that way because even if he told you it would not be the truth. A distorted memory of the truth as he knew it. There is a sad man like that in every quiet bar in the world.
"Randy doesn't bother. In Las Vegas he's a legitimate businessman. You look him up next time you're there. He'll be your pal."
"Not too likely. I don't like hoodlums."
"That's just a word, Marlowe. We have that kind of world. Two wars gave it to us and we are going to keep it."