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Philip Marlowe #6

The Long Goodbye

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Down-and-out drunk Terry Lennox has a problem: his millionaire wife is dead and he needs to get out of LA fast. So he turns to the only friend he can trust: private investigator Philip Marlowe. Marlowe is willing to help a man down on his luck, but later Lennox commits suicide in Mexico and things start to turn nasty. Marlowe is drawn into a sordid crowd of adulterers and alcoholics in LA's Idle Valley, where the rich are suffering one big suntanned hangover. Marlowe is sure Lennox didn't kill his wife, but how many stiffs will turn up before he gets to the truth?

379 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1953

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About the author

Raymond Chandler

477 books4,766 followers
Raymond Thornton Chandler was an American novelist and screenwriter.

In 1932, at age forty-four, Raymond Chandler decided to become a detective fiction writer after losing his job as an oil company executive during the Depression. His first short story, "Blackmailers Don't Shoot", was published in 1933 in Black Mask, a popular pulp magazine. His first novel, The Big Sleep, was published in 1939. In addition to his short stories, Chandler published just seven full novels during his lifetime (though an eighth in progress at his death was completed by Robert B. Parker). All but Playback have been realized into motion pictures, some several times. In the year before he died, he was elected president of the Mystery Writers of America. He died on March 26, 1959, in La Jolla, California.

Chandler had an immense stylistic influence on American popular literature, and is considered by many to be a founder, along with Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain and other Black Mask writers, of the hard-boiled school of detective fiction. Chandler's Philip Marlowe, along with Hammett's Sam Spade, are considered by some to be synonymous with "private detective," both having been played on screen by Humphrey Bogart, whom many considered to be the quintessential Marlowe.

Some of Chandler's novels are considered to be important literary works, and three are often considered to be masterpieces: Farewell, My Lovely (1940), The Little Sister (1949), and The Long Goodbye (1953). The Long Goodbye is praised within an anthology of American crime stories as "arguably the first book since Hammett's The Glass Key, published more than twenty years earlier, to qualify as a serious and significant mainstream novel that just happened to possess elements of mystery".

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Profile Image for s.penkevich.
964 reviews6,816 followers
June 19, 2023
To say goodbye is to die a little.

There are some books that just feel good to have on your dashboard, never too far from your fingertips to read in the tiny gaps between obligations and responsibility. The type of book that rides shotgun and keeps you company through the darker hours, through lonely nights at a shady laundromat or booze-soaked rainstorms on your porch. Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye is that sort of book, that sort of friend. The past few months have seen some bleak times and I’ve been on a Chandler kick to press through them. Of all the Marlowe adventures, this was the one that stands out like a lighthouse in a storm telling an unforgettable tale of murder and mystery. Chandler took noir to soaring heights of literary acceptance with his works, joining Dashiell Hammett as an essential author of the genre and The Long Goodbye leaves an eternal mark on the face of literature even more so that the more upbeat and hardboiled The Big Sleep that kicked off the Phillip Marlowe novel series and inspired fantastic films such as The Big Lebowski. Goodbye is a novel for hard times, hard drinking, hard living; an aged and more cynical than ever Marlowe proves he’s worth his salt in honoring the memory of a short-lived but impactful friendship with Terry Lennox. Lennox, a war-hero alcoholic, has been a victim of either suicide or arranged murder in a small Mexican town while on the lam escaping an accusation for murder of his rich wife, and Marlowe will stop at nothing to see through the doors slammed shut by political power and fear and discover the truth. While a bit bloated, this is a novel of near perfection in the mystery genre that is guaranteed to keep you up at night, gladly dropping more quarters for another dryer cycle in order to keep reading because a mystery with Marlowe is about as good as life gets.

To label this novel perfection would be to bastardize any opinions on the literature more widely accepted by the academy that I’ve previously championed and praised, but few novels have felt like a better friend in hard times than The Long Goodbye. Or perhaps it’s just that I like occupying Marlowe’s headspace. I even named my new cat after him upon completion of The Big Sleep. Marlowe is the type of man you wish you were, but not one you’d want to spend time with. He is fearless and devoted nearly to a fault, unafraid to play the asshole to get what he wants. He swims upon his moods and cherishes those moments of getting right up in someones face just to drown out a bad feeling or ascertain the truth. He calls everyone out on their bullshit and possesses a moral compass so strong that nobody besides himself seems to be worth a damn. Pushy and thorny, Marlowe is the hero for me. Reading a Chandler novel is much like geeking out on the old John Wayne films I’d watch with my father as a child, particularly True Grit. There are the pitfalls of blatant misogyny, racism (particularly towards Latin Americans in this one, which with my love of Latin American literature was particularly not cool) and cornball dated humor, but it is honestly very easy to overlook when the plot is that engaging, the writing that ‘cool’ and the novel so entertaining. How can you not love a novel with a passage like this:
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

This is the sort of novel that keeps you pouring a glass along with Marlowe—perhaps is that what they mean by an ‘active reader’, one who empathizes with the character and drinks when he drinks?—and despite being a pot-boiler of a thriller, never insults the intellect. The twists are fresh and the writing crisp. Granted, the novel is a bit bloated and some elements may raise the ‘really?’ eyebrow of critique, but on the whole it works. It is easy to consider many bits as cliche in the modern day, but important to remember that it was Chandler that invented it before it became cliche. There is also a really charming self-consciousness to this novel with regards to the writing. ‘Why did I go into such detail?’ Marlowe asks of himself, ‘because the charged atmosphere made every little thing stand out as a performance.’ The writing truly fits the scene and the P.I. narrator. While in most novels it would be easy to sneer at a lengthy passage on the physical description and dress of a character as they first walk on the scene, here it is at home since Marlowe would need to analyze a fresh face for all they are worth to build a profile of them quickly in order to interact with them and press for the goal. Chandler has a true gift for dialogue and character mannerisms as well, creating a wide, engaging cast. ‘He was a guy who talked with commas, like a heavy novel,’ he says at one point, and the dialogue of each character is always brilliantly nuanced. There is even a wonderful sense of satire on authors present, with Chandler poking fun at top-selling authors who write for profit and not for artistic merit, as is shown with Roger Wade. The continuous satire and critique of Hollywood and California that permeates Chandler’s novels comes alive in comical form with the desert sobering-up-clinic and the mentally challenged guard who cannot separate his fantasy role-playing of cowboys and tough guys from reality. On the surface it is easy to scoff at these scenes, but Chandler plays for something deeper.

It is fascinating to have read Chandler grow as a writer and to see his characters develop and age over time. Like a racoon, Marlowe has grown older and meaner and tougher, but all the more honorable, strong-willed and fearless.
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 in
The 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 Long Goodbye is a cornerstone of noir and mystery that rises above any genre into simply being a beautiful piece of literature. A searing social critique orchestrated with dazzling plot twists, enviable dialogue prowess and a firm grounding in doing what is right simply because it is right, Chandler has created a masterpiece that is just as potent today as it was when first written. This is the sort of novel that scratches an itch of being both a fluff read and an intellectual endeavour (there must be a term for this somewhere) and grabs the reader by the throat and heart and won’t let go until the final, heart wrenching few lines. Plus, the Robert Altman film starring Elliott Gould is fantastic (though not a perfect adaption it still works) and rivals even Chinatown as a masterpiece of noir cinema. This novel was a true comfort on many a dark night and it was sad to see it end. Marlowe is a true literary hero and one I won’t ever forget.

Out there in the night of a thousand crimes people were dying, being maimed, cut by flying glass, crushed against steering wheels or under heavy tires. People were being beaten, robbed, strangled, raped, and murdered. People were hungry, sick; bored, desperate with loneliness or remorse or fear, angry, cruel, feverish, shaken by sobs. A city no worse than others, a city rich and vigorous and full of pride, a city lost and beaten and full of emptiness.
It all depends on where you sit and what your own private score is. I didn’t have one. I didn’t care.
I finished the drink and went to bed.

¹ While there is plenty of drinking to be had (finish this novel without wanting to go order a gimlet, I dare you), Chandler does well to also add an air of caution to the intake of alcohol. To drink in moderation is one thing, but the horrors of alcoholism and excess make up a major portion of the novel. ‘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.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews46 followers
September 30, 2021
(Book 511 from 1001 books) - The Long Goodbye (Philip Marlowe, #6), Raymond Chandler

The Long Goodbye is a novel by Raymond Chandler, published in 1953, his sixth novel featuring the private investigator Philip Marlowe. Some critics consider it inferior to The Big Sleep or Farewell, My Lovely, but others rank it as the best of his work. Chandler, in a letter to a friend, called the novel "my best book".

The novel opens outside a club called the Dancers. It is late October or early November. No specific year is given for when the events take place, but internal evidence and the publication date of the novel place them some time between 1950 and 1952.

Philip Marlowe meets a drunk named Terry Lennox, a man with scars on one side of his face. They forge an uneasy friendship over the next few months. In June, Lennox shows up late one night at Marlowe's home in "a great deal of trouble" and needing a ride to the airport across the border in Tijuana, Mexico. Marlowe agrees as long as Lennox does not tell him any details of why he is running.

On his return to Los Angeles, Marlowe learns that Lennox's wife was found dead in her guest house and that she died before Lennox fled. Marlowe is arrested on suspicion of murder after refusing to co-operate with investigators, who want him to confess that he helped Lennox flee. ...

خداحافظی طولانی - ریموند چندلر (روزنه‌ کار) ادبیات آمریکا؛ یکی از صد داستان جنایی برتر دنیا؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز سوم ماه می سال1999میلادی

عنوان: خداحافظی طولانی؛ نویسنده: ریموند چندلر؛ مترجم فتح الله جعفری جوزانی؛ تهران، روزنه کار، 1378، در 408ص؛ شابک 9646728073؛ موضوع داستانهای پلیسی از نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکایی - ماجراهای فلیپ مارلو - کتاب شش - سده 20م

چکیده داستان: مردی به نام «تری لنوکس» با دختری از خاندان ثروتمند آشنا می‌شود، اما چون خود از ثروت بهره‌ ای ندارد، با بی‌مهری دختر مواجه می‌گردد، و ناگزیر از او فاصله می‌گیرد؛ سرانجام «تری» با مساعدت دوستش ـ کارآگاه مارلو ـ کاری در «لاس‌وگاس» می‌یابد، و اوضاع او به شدت رو به بهبودی می‌رود، و پول فراوان دست و پا می‌کند؛ او با تغییر وضع مالی خود، به سراغ همان دختر می‌رود، و با او ازدواج می‌کند؛ این امر البته با نارضایتی کارآگاه «مارلو» صورت می‌گیرد؛ یکچند سپری می‌شود، تا اینکه «تری» با حالتی وحشت‌زده، و تفنگ به دست، نزد کارآگاه «مارلو» می‌آید، و…؛

آغاز داستان از متن: (دفعه ی اولی که چشمم به «تری لنوکس» افتاد؛ توی یک ماشین «رولزرویس» نقره ای رنگ، بیرون تراس رستوران «دنسرز» مست بود، مسئول پارکینگ ماشین را آورده بود، و همینطور درو واز نگه داشته بود؛ چون پای چپ «تری لنوکس» هنوز بیرون ماشین آویزان بود؛ انگار یادش رفته بود که اصلا پای چپی هم داره؛ چهره اش جوان به نظر میاومد؛ ولی موهاش سفید استخونی بود؛ از چشماش معلوم بود که پاتیله؛ ولی ازون که میگذشتی، قیافه اش مثل هر کس دیگه ای بود؛ که تو جایی که فقط واسه سرکیسه کردن ساخته شده، پول زیادی خرج کرده باشد؛ یه دختر کنارش بود؛ موهایی به رنگ قرمز تیره ی دوست داشتنی داشت؛ رو لبهاش لبخند دوری بود، و رو شونه هاش یه پالتو خز آبی، که تقریبا باعث میشد اون «رولز رویس» مثل هر ماشین دیگه ای به نظر بیاد؛ اما نه؛ هیچی نمیتونه با «رولزرویس» این کار رو بکنه؛ و ...)؛ پایان نقل

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 22/08/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 07/07/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Anne.
4,060 reviews69.5k followers
September 22, 2023
Hardboiled dick Philip Marlow orders a few gimlets and uses chum as a derogatory term.
When's the last time you casually lit a cigarette, tossed back a drink, then looked someone dead in the eye and said, Listen, chum...?
After about the third time he did it, I felt an urge to bring it back into my everyday lexicon. I don't know about you, but I think it might go a long way toward upping my cool factor.


Another thing that stuck out to me was the amount of money that Marlow turns down or gives back due to his odd sense of honor. I'm so poor it made my stomach hurt.
Take it! Take the dirty money you grubby little detective!


What's the skinny gist, you ask?
Well, I'm not sure I even know where to start with that, Random Goodreader.
But a lot happens in this pretty short book.
{insert slow jazzy music here}
This sordid tale begins when a cheating wife gets murdered. She's a floozy so no one cares, see? But she was a rich floozy, so her daddy is covering it up. No, you dirty bastard, not that kind of a daddy...her real daddy.
{insert a haze of cigarette smoke into the room here}
A loser friend of Marlow's sets off on a middle-of-the-night trip to Mexico, writes a confession, and then offs himself. Or did he have help?
On the other side of town, a drunk author goes on a bender and his hot wife begs Marlow to find him.
Marlow, did you just kiss his wife?
Wait. Was the boozy author the real killer?
Or was it -?
Nothing is what it seems.


If that didn't make sense then I did my job right, pal.
You can't trust a dame to tell the truth anyway.

Pssst. Hey, chum. The narrator who read this to me was Elliott Gould.
Profile Image for Orsodimondo.
2,192 reviews1,816 followers
December 16, 2020

Marlowe cresce, senza invecchiare.
Letterariamente nato nel 1939, qui appare quattordici anni dopo per la sesta volta.

Disilluso, e apparentemente cinico, è in realtà il solito inguaribile romantico, qui più che mai.
Al punto da credere ‘ancora’ in valori come l’amicizia, e perfino l’onestà.
In questo romanzo, più che in altri, la tematica dell’alcol la fa da padrone, ci sono ben tre personaggi che ne sono schiavi: lo scrittore in crisi creativa, l’amico fuggitivo, e lo stesso protagonista. Per un lungo periodo della sua vita Chandler ebbe seri problemi di alcol, fino probabilmente a morire per le conseguenze dell’eccesso.

Il condominio dove abita Marlowe a Westwood - sullo sfondo le sue belle vicine di casa.

Il lungo addio è il grande sonno, la morte.

Per me Chandler rimane un maestro insuperato del noir in chiave hard boiled, e leggerlo rimane uno dei piaceri della vita.

Poi, vent’anni dopo l’uscita del romanzo, nel 1973, arrivò Robert Altman. Erano i suoi anni più fecondi: in soli cinque anni realizzò film storici, come questo, “M*A*S*H*”, “McCabe & Mrs Miller-I compari”, “Thieves Like Us-Gang,” “Nashville”, concedendosi anche opere ‘minori’, ma sempre più che pregevoli, come “Brewster McCloud-Anche gli uccelli uccidono”, “Images” e “California Split-California Poker”. Il suo obiettivo sembrava essere fare buoni film intervenendo sui generei cinematografici, smitizzandoli (pietra miliare rimane la rivisitazione del West nel film con Warren Beatty e Julie Christie), giocando sugli stereotipi.
Qui, più che altrove, respiro molta nouvelle vague francese, sapientemente adattata alla costa ovest degli US.

Verso la fine, stessa inquadratura del mitico finale: qui Marlowe arriva a piedi alla casa dell’amico, e poi se ne va (sempre a piedi!).

Altman carrella, panoramica, zoomma, muove in continuazione la sua macchina da presa col dolly, e riprende attraverso finestre, su vetri specchi quadri finestre acqua, superfici che riflettono e schermano, cornici che raddoppiano l’inquadratura.
Altrettanto meta-cinematografica è la colonna sonora di John Williams, la canzone The Long Goodbye che si ripete per tutto il film sotto forma di puro score, oppure dalla radio, oppure cantata dai personaggi, nel campanello di una porta, nella marcia funebre di un funerale messicano.

La storia, oltre a essere attualizzata ambientandola nella Los Angeles dei primi anni Settanta (il gangster sembra un sosia di Paul Simon! È interpretato da Mark Rydell, più famoso come regista che come attore: suoi sono “Sul lago dorato” e “Il fiume dell’ira”), è scarnificata, ridotta all’osso, sfrondando tutti i rami secondari con cui Chandler contorceva le sue trame.

Gould-Marlowe rimane vestito così tutto il film, inclusa la sigaretta accesa, presente in ogni singola scena.

Già dalla prima inquadratura capiamo molto di questo ‘nuovo’ Marlowe: dorme vestito con la luce accesa su un letto sfatto, accanto ha un posacenere straboccante di cicche, viene svegliato alle tre del mattino dal gatto affamato, si accende immediatamente una sigaretta, e come nel resto del film, non la abbandona mai, e la accende sempre con fiammiferi strusciati su qualsiasi superficie (la parete dietro il letto è tutta segnata). Sembra uno studente fuori sede, e fuori corso, di quelli che frequentano poco la doccia, non rinunciano a vestiti stazzonati e lavandini ingombri di piatti sporchi.
È un tale perdente che poco più avanti perde anche il gatto (non è riuscito a imbrogliarlo: il gatto ha la sua marca preferita di cibo in scatola e mangia solo quella, Marlowe ha cambiato etichetta ai barattoli, ma il gatto non c’è cascato).

I dialoghi delle scene con Hayden-Wade sono tutti improvvisati perché Sterling Hayden era sempre ubriaco e strafatto. La casa dove abita è la casa dove abitava Robert Altman all’epoca.

Durante l’interrogatorio della polizia Marlowe si dipinge la faccia con l’inchiostro del tampone per le impronte digitali: un po’ come un giocatore di football, ancor più come un pellerossa, a metà tra la marachella e la protesta (Belmondo si colorava di blu nel finale di “Pierrot le fou”).
Però indossa sempre lo stesso abito scuro, con camicia bianca e cravatta: anche se invitato a togliersela, evita, rimane vestito perfino quando si tuffa nell’oceano per salvare lo scrittore ubriaco (un immenso iconico Sterling Hayden, che improvvisò tutti i suoi dialoghi perché sul set era perennemente ubriaco e fatto d’erba).

Gould/Marlowe prova a imbrogliare il gatto: di nascosto riempie il barattolo del cibo preferito dal felino con un altro qualsiasi, lo offre alla bestiola che però non ci casca, e rifiuta sdegnasa.

È un Marlowe molto diverso, a cominciare dal fatto che è trasportato negli anni Settanta.
Ma nostalgia e malinconia impregnano il film come il romanzo: basta pensare alla macchina che Elliott Gould-Philip Marlowe possiede, una Lincoln Continental decapottabile del 1948. O basta pensare al fatto che a sceneggiare è la stessa Leigh Brackett del mitico “Il Grande Sonno”, proprio quello diretto da Haward Hawks nel 1946, con l’ancor più mitico Bogart che rese leggendario il private eye Marlowe. O anche alle imitazione del custode del Malibu Colony.
Ma oltre a questi sentimenti ‘retro’, c’è ironia e umorismo da vendere, macchiette, caricature, alleggerimento, diluizione della suspense.
È un noir così atipico che è girato quasi tutto di giorno, senza neon e asfalti bagnati in controluce (il direttore della fotografia è il grande Vilmos Zsigmond, che in post-produzione sovraespose il negativo alla luce per smorzare i neri e ammorbidire i colori fino a raggiungere tonalità pastello).

Le vicine di casa, sempre nude, sempre tra lo strafatto e lo sciroccato.

È un film con un investigatore privato protagonista e non vediamo mai il suo ufficio, con la classica porta a vetri, e la bottiglia di bourbon nascosta nel cassetto della scrivania. Dove lavora questo Marlowe? Ce l’ha un ufficio?
È un detective privato che gira disarmato, tranne nel finale.
Che ha vicine di casa bellissime e sciroccate, perennemente in topless, sempre sveglie, passano il tempo tra yoga meditazione e confezionando candele, preparano brownies alle tre del mattino (sicuramente speziati di hashish). Marlowe invece di corteggiarle, gli fa la spesa di notte e non si fa rendere i soldi. Piuttosto chiede loro di gettare un occhio sul suo gatto che s’è offeso per il tranello della scatoletta di cibo ed è sparito.
Gould è sornione e strafottente, ma emana anche tenerezza e fragilità, le donne lo ingaggiano anche per essere protette (vedi la moglie dello scrittore, Nina van Pallandt).

Riflessi e doppie inquadrature.

Per tutto il film Gould-Marlowe ripete “It’s ok with me”, inno di strafottenza e rinuncia: ma alla fine invece, all’amico che gli dice "A nessuno importa…", risponde "Importa a me.” E compie un gesto tanto inaspettato quanto inevitabile, regalando al film un finale magnifico, decisamente superiore a quello del romanzo.

Quanto assomiglia ai protagonisti dei film americani della stessa epoca (il Jack Nicholson di “Cinque pezzi facili”, Gene Hackman de “La conversazione”, DeNiro di “Taxi Driver”, sempre Hackman di “Bersaglio di notte”, il Krist Kristofferson di “Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid”…: delusi, perdenti, ma non sconfitti, anti-eroi un po’ fuori dal tempo, ma perfette espressioni di quel loro tempo incerto.

E allora, il lungo addio del film di Altman è forse quello del cinema americano al cinema classico, al cinema di papà: la nouvelle vague è venuta almeno dieci/quindici prima, anche il free cinema, adesso è il tempo della New Hollywood (non per niente il film si chiude sulle note di Hooray for Hollywoodche continua a scorrere sotto i titoli di coda)

In due ruoli minori, neppure citati nei titoli di coda (uncredited) si vedono David Carradine e Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Da sinistra a destra: Robert Altman, Nina von Pallandt, Elliott Gould.
Profile Image for Henry Avila.
468 reviews3,253 followers
August 25, 2022
Philip Marlowe a cynical shamus looks down at the parking lot of The Dancers Club, watching a drunk be put into his car a silver Rolls Royce, but the annoyed valet has trouble, the left leg refuses to be moved inside, instead remains firmly on the ground. Where the rest of the intoxicated man will soon be also. The pretty red- headed woman sitting next to him or was, in the automobile is very angry with good reason. Turns out she is Sylvia Lennox ex- wife of this inebriated war veteran (Second World War) Terry Lennox, and he has the scars on his face to prove it. Mr. Marlowe not known for being a nice guy, comes down the steps and helps the defenseless Terry up . While the multimillionaire's notorious daughter says she's late for an engagement and goes to get a cab for the lush, Mr. Lennox. Taking the vehicle ( it's hers), speeding away like a race driver towards the finish line. What to do with this pathetic creature, take him home and sober him up thinks Marlowe, can't leave the poor man in the gutter things were different in the last year of the 1940's, besides Thanksgiving had just been celebrated ... Soon these unlikely two become friends , Mr. Marlowe keeps Terry from the drunk tank the next time he sees him, trying to be vertical on the streets of Los Angeles, hustles him away when a cop notices.. . But would you believe it ? This alcoholic friend, living mostly in some dark hole outside, wherever he could find or reach one, remarries the wealthy daughter of Mr. Harlan Potter and is on their second honeymoon in Las Vegas ! From the top to the bottom and back again, sending a hundred dollar check to the astonished Marlowe for all his complications, a few days before Christmas too. .. They later become drinking partners at a dingy bar, but happiness does not last, Mr. Lennox is just a front to keep the promiscuous Sylvia looking respectable, Daddy is a cold conservative, honorable man, no bad publicity, he likes it as much as a stock market crash but a murder is committed, there will be more and Terry is suspected, the hero flees to Mexico with the assistance of Philip, who asks not the right questions, a pal is a pal. The tough police aren't slapping the private detective around, beating him like a punching bag with eyes, not the first time either from criminals or the law, it does still hurt but keeps his trap shut...Jailed, looking out into space (only blankness) waiting and wondering how can he get out of this foolish mess, maybe be incarcerated in San Quentin the big house for years, but has his pride intact... Days later he is sprung, becomes involved with Mr. and Mrs. Wade in the exclusive then San Fernando Valley, Eileen Wade is breathtakingly beautiful, Roger Wade is another drunk but a best- selling writer, needs to stop drinking in order to finish his next book, swords and romance, a favorite of critics it isn't , they however are poor and he is rich ... Philip Marlowe through no fault of his own brings death and sinister lurking gangsters ... Raymond Chandler the king of mystery authors has another great novel which lifts it above the genre into serious, distinguished literature.
Profile Image for James Thane.
Author 9 books6,938 followers
November 21, 2022
This is the sixth and last of the full-length novels that Raymond Chandler wrote featuring his iconic detective, Philip Marlowe. It's also the most personal in that Chandler seems to have based two of the characters, Terry Lennox and Roger Wade, at least in part on himself.

At the book opens, Marlowe meets a man named Terry Lennox outside of a nightclub. Lennox is very drunk and his date drives off and leaves him. Marlowe, being a good samaritan, takes Lennox to his own home, sobers him up and then drives him home to the mansion that Lennox shares with his very promiscuous and extremely wealthy wife. On the basis of this incident, Marlowe and Lennox strike up a friendship of sorts and occasionally get together for drinks. Then one night, Lennox turns up and asks Marlow to give him a ride to Mexico, no questions asked.

Well, what are friends for?

Marlowe gives Lennox a ride and from that point, things generally go to hell in a handbasket. It's very difficult to say anything else about the plot of the novel without giving things away that the reader will want to find out for him or herself. This is, though, one of Chandler's best novels, full of the social commentary and great prose for which Chandler was so deservedly famous. This plot is actually a little less convoluted than some of the others and it's fun to watch it unfold. I finished the book this time around, after reading the other Chandler novels in order, regretting even more than ever the fact that there are only six of these novels along with a number of short stories. I could have used a lot more.

On a side note, this novel was published in 1953 and is set sometime around 1950. It was finally filmed by Robert Altman in 1973, starring Elliot Gould as Marlowe and the story is set in the early 1970s rather than the early 1950s. A lot of people like the movie a lot, but I've seen it twice and have never been able to warm up to it. Given the way that Humphrey Bogart inhabited the role of Marlowe and really made it his own, I just couldn't buy Gould as Marlowe. Also, Marlowe, who seemed to perfectly belong to the late 1940s and early '50s, seemed out of place in the 1970s--almost anachronistic. For my part, then, when I need a Philip Marlowe film fix, I'll stick with the Bogart version of "The Big Sleep," and I'm sure I'll be coming back to this and the other novels again and again in the coming years.
Profile Image for Joe Valdez.
499 reviews852 followers
June 27, 2021
As research for a novel I'm writing, I'm reading detective fiction and stealing everything of value. My story takes place in L.A. of the early '90s, but I'm buying every type of firework on the stand and lighting the fuse. Though I've seen Philip Marlowe adapted to film or television, my introduction to the fiction of Raymond Chandler is The Long Goodbye, the author's sixth novel featuring the Los Angeles private dick. Published in 1953, it's long in the tooth, but it's a testament to Chandler's immense literary skill that more than sixty years of copying and pasting by others hasn't stripped this novel of its vitality.

The first-person account begins with Marlowe's enigmatic relationship with Terry Lennox, a fop he brings home like a stray dog, sobering him up, cooking him breakfast and giving him enough bucks to catch a bus to Las Vegas where a job awaits. Terry reappears in Marlowe's life married to Sylvia Potter, the daughter of publishing magnate Harlan Potter. Not long after, Terry appears on Marlowe's doorstep with a gun in his hand. He offers Marlowe five hundred dollars to drive him to Tijuana. Terry hasn't shot anybody with that gun, but doesn't claim innocence over whatever fate has met his promiscuous wife.

Returning home, Marlowe finds two homicide cops waiting. His wise guy act doesn't go over well with the LAPD, who are looking for Terry Lennox and notify Marlowe that Sylvia has been found dead in her guest house in Encino, her face beaten to a pulp with a bronze statuette. Marlowe doesn't believe Terry would do anything like that and loyalty costs him some smacks in the face and three days in jail. The cops let him go when Lennox is located in a small mountain town in Mexico with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Marlowe doesn't believe Terry would kill himself either.

I thought about Terry Lennox in a detached sort of way. He was already receding into the distance, white hair and scarred face and weak charm and his peculiar brand of pride. I didn't judge him or analyze him, just as I had never asked him questions about how he got wounded or how he ever happened to get himself married to anyone like Sylvia. He was like somebody you meet on board a cruise ship and get to know very well and never really know at all. He was gone like the same fellow when he says goodbye at the pier and let's keep in touch, old man, and you know you won't and he won't. Likely enough you'll never even see the guy again. If you do he will be an entirely different person, just another Rotarian in a club car. How's business? Oh, not too bad. You look good. So do you. I've put on too much weight. Don't we all? Remember that trip in the Franconia (or whatever it was)? Oh sure, swell trip, wasn't it?

The hell it was a swell trip. You were bored stiff. You only talked to the guy because there wasn't anybody around that interested you. Maybe it was like that with Terry Lennox and me. No, not quite. I owned a piece of him. I had invested time and money in him, and three days in the icehouse, not to mention a slug in the jaw and a punch in the neck that I felt every time I swallowed. Now he was dead and I couldn't even give him back his five hundred bucks. That made me sore. It was always the little things that make you sore.

Marlowe receives a visit at his office from a flashy hoodlum named Mendy Melendez and his bodyguard. Melendez delights in taunting Marlowe as a "cheapie" not worth the bother, except to threaten about making publicity off the Terry Lennox case. Melendez claims that Terry not only saved his life in the war, but the life of a Vegas gangster named Randy Starr. Marlowe later receives an envelope with Mexican stamps, a note written by Terry and a $5,000 bill in it. Needing something else to occupy himself with, Marlowe accepts a meeting at the Ritz-Beverly with a potential client, a New York publishing agent.

The agent pitches Marlowe the job of investigating his client Roger Wade, author of tawdry and popular historical novels who's struggling to finish his latest. Spencer and Wade's wife believe there might be something in Roger's past driving him into a bottle and need someone to watch him. Marlowe turns the job down, until he's joined by Mrs. Eileen Wade, a fairy princess blonde whose manner gets the dick's attention, but not enough for him to take a job as male nurse for her drunk husband though. Visiting Marlowe at his office the next day, Eileen Wade notifies Marlowe that Roger has been missing for three days, leaving only a name on a piece of yellow paper, "Dr. V."

Marlowe draws on a contact in a high-end Beverly Hills private investigation firm, a place he turned down a job in, for a list of L.A. area quacks with the last name "V" who for the right price prescribe their services to people like Roger Wade. Infiltrating the operations of three quacks one at a time, Marlowe leaves with nothing but disdain for their practice.

I paid my check, left my car where it was, and walked the north side of the street to the Stockwell Building. It was an antique with a cigar counter in the entrance and a manually operated elevator that lurched and hated to level off. The corridor to the sixth floor was narrow and the doors had frosted glass panels. It was older and much dirtier than my own building. It was loaded with doctors, dentists, Christian science practitioners not doing too good, the kind of lawyers you hope the other fellow has, the kind of doctors and dentists who just scrape along. Not too skillful, not too clean, not too much on the ball, three dollars and please pay the nurse; tired, discouraged men who know just exactly where they stand, what kind of patients they can get and how much money they can be squeezed into paying. Please Do Not Ask For Credit. Doctor is In, Doctor is Out. That's a pretty shaky molar you have there, Mrs. Kazinski. Now if you want this new acrylic filling, every bit as good as a gold inlay, I can do it for you for $14. Novocain will be two dollars extra, if you wish it. Doctor is In, Doctor is Out. That will be Three Dollars. Please Pay the Nurse.

In a building like that there will always be a few guys making real money, but they don't look it. They fit into the shabby background, which is protective coloring for them. Shyster lawyers who are partners in a bail-bond racket on the side (only about two per cent of all forfeited bail bonds are ever collected). Abortionists posing as anything you like that explains their furnishings. Dope pushers posing as urologists, dermatologists, or any branch of medicine in which the treatment can be frequent, and the regular use of local anesthetics is normal.

Of course, Marlowe finds Roger Wade. Of course, Roger & Eileen Wade knew Terry & Sylvia Lennox. Of course, the mysteries of Sylvia's murder and Roger's ennui are related. And of course, Marlowe figures it out, despite the rich and powerful, the police and a criminal element not wanting anything figured out. What I loved about The Long Goodbye from its hangover title to its reveal on the last page is the character of Philip Marlowe. He doesn't have a deep past or seem to have much of a future either, nor does he seem to travel far. He's like an audience member at a game show, sitting in one place, incredulous, while the sets and prizes keep revolving in front of him.

So passed a day in the life of a P.I. Not exactly a typical day but not totally untypical either. What makes a man stay with it nobody knows. You don't get rich, you don't often have much fun. Sometimes you get beaten up or shot at or tossed into the jailhouse. Once in a long while you get dead. Every other month you decide to give it up and find some sensible occupation while you can still walk without shaking your head. Then the door buzzer rings and you open the inner door to the waiting room and there stands a new face with a new problem, a new load of grief, and a small piece of money.

While I felt The Long Goodbye dragging on a little bit, I think the reason Raymond Chandler has stood the test of time is that as filmed or liberated as some of his plots have been over the years, nobody can write this wee-small-hours-of-the-morning prose, mix together various elements or make it feel as timeless as Chandler does on the page. This novel was loosely but memorably adapted in 1973 by filmmaker Robert Altman with Elliott Gould as Marlowe, clinging to Chandler's dusty '50s values of loyalty while L.A. had entered the Me Decade. An often self-indulgent film, I prefer the novel, which functions better as a story and allows the reader into Marlowe's mind.

Word count: 119, 606 words

Profile Image for Francesc.
458 reviews221 followers
April 5, 2022
Obra maestra de la literatura. De lectura imprescindible.

Literature masterpiece. Essential reading.
Profile Image for Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh.
167 reviews511 followers
April 20, 2014
Chandler’s known as the king of LA noir and word is this is his best. His writing is lean and clean, short staccato sentences with not a word wasted. Almost poetic in its brevity – not to be confused with lack of substance. Humour me, I’m trying it out on this review Marlowe’s amazingly complex, a fast-talking P.I. surviving on tough cynicism. Deep down just a stand-up guy with a soft spot for underdogs. Got a moral core that earns him no thanks, just a whole whack of trouble and an enemy around every corner. There’s a suicide and a murder everybody’s pushing Marlow to drop. "You know something, kid? You think you're cute but you're just stupid. You're a shadow on the wall.” But walking away just ain't in his make-up.

A taste of Marlow's world “I drove back to Hollywood feeling like a short length of chewed string. It was too early to eat, and too hot. I turned on the fan in my office. It didn't make the air any cooler, just a little more lively. Outside on the boulevard the traffic brawled endlessly. Inside my head thoughts stuck together like flies on flypaper.” He builds characters effortlessly – again in just a few words. Take this pair of Homicide Detectives "He was gray blond and looked sticky. His partner was tall, good-looking, neat, and had a precise nastiness about him, a goon with an education. They had watching and waiting eyes, patient and careful eyes, cool disdainful eyes, cops' eyes."

Plot's a bit convoluted but moves along nicely. Don’t get caught up trying to keep it all straight. Instead enjoy the ambiance and the deliciously broken people. Majority of them clinging to sanity by a thread. Roger Wade is interesting, a bestselling pulp fiction author who hits the bottle hard. Rumour has it this is semi-autobiographical.
Heads-up: Written in the 50’s so you'll need to take in stride some racism. Women are broads and they're all bad news. He seems to like them anyway. "So they're human, they sweat, they get dirty, they have to go to the bathroom. What did you expect-golden butterflies hovering in a rosy mist?”

Way I see it I lucked out. My GR buddies guided me to Chandler as an intro to the world of hard-boiled detective novels. My 1st stab at it, have nothing to compare it to. Can’t rate by genre so 4.5 stars as pure entertainment – it was a blast.
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
3,005 reviews10.6k followers
December 24, 2012
A down and out friend of Marlowe's flees to Mexico with Marlowe's help, his wife dead under suspicious circumstances. Marlowe's friend soon turns up dead, an apparent suicide. But what does his death, if anything, have to do with a drunk writer Marlowe finds himself watching?

I'm not really sure how I feel about the Long Goodbye. It's Chandler so the writing is great, with Chandler's trademark similes and hard-boiled atmosphere. On the other hand, it's written a little differently than his other Philip Marlowe books. It's more philosophical and less crime-oriented. The two victims in the story seem to be stand-ins for Chandler himself.

It's still crime oriented, though. It took me forever to figure out how the two seemingly unrelated cases were linked. I got there just before Marlowe did but it was a close shave.

What else is there to say without giving anything away? Chandler once again delivers the goods, just not in the same package as usual. Still, it was a very enjoyable read.
Profile Image for Michael.
1,094 reviews1,537 followers
June 29, 2013
I enjoyed the atmospherics and mood of this one, the last of Chandler’s detective stories featuring Philip Marlowe. This one is different in being more meditative and in having more of a focus on alienation among the wealthy residents of gated compounds. Chandler also restrains Marlowe’s use of colorful similes in his interior monologues, which became a cliché in many of his imitators. Compared to the earlier tales, Chandler is more judicious here in the playful, sardonic banter Marlowe uses for dismaying and undermining his adversaries, part of his signature cool bravado in the face of danger.

The story begins with Marlowe helping his sensitive alcoholic friend Lennox escape to Mexico, with no questions asked. Soon he learns his faithless, wealthy wife has been brutally murdered, with Lennox the prime suspect. Marlowe stays mum during brutal police questioning and is held in jail for a few days. His initial temptation to investigate the case as a possible frame is undermined by reports of Lennox’s suicide and written confession. The case comes up again when he begins to find links with another PI job. A publisher tries to hire him to uncover the roots of a writer’s block and violent behavior when drinking. Though he turns the job down, the guy’s seductive wife draws him into their situation. A murder takes place that he might have prevented, putting Marlowe into high gear to solve the linked cases and foil the pervasive efforts of powerful forces to suppress the truth.

Despite the troubles with alcohol that beset his two main characters and Chandler himself, he has a wonderful way of capturing the allure Marlowe finds in drinking with Lennox:
“I like bars just after they open for the evening. When the air inside is still cool and clean and everything is shiny and the barkeep is giving himself that last look in the mirror to see if his tie is straight and his hair is smooth. I like the neat bottles on the bar back and the lovely shining glasses and the anticipation. I like to watch the man mix the first one of the evening and put it down on a crisp mat and put the little folded napkin beside it. I like to taste it slowly. The first quiet drink of the evening in a quiet bar—that’s wonderful.” I agreed with him. …
“Alcohol is like love,” he said. “The first kiss is magic, the second is intimate, the third is routine. After that you take the girl’s clothes off.”

Chandler’s prose has some more delights in capturing the casual attitudes of the rich on power of money:
“I’m a big bad man, Marlowe. I make lots of dough. I got to make lots of dough to juice the guys I got to juice in order to make lots of dough to juice the guys I got to juice.

A rich businessmen has his formula for success nicely boiled down:
You can’t have quality with mass production. You don’t want it because it lasts too long. So you substitute styling, which is a commercial swindle intended to produce artificial obsolescence.

Marlowe’s jaded attitude about conventional justice is nicely expressed is this diatribe:
“Let the law enforcement people do their own dirty work. Let the lawyers work it out. They write the laws for other lawyers to dissect in front of other lawyers to dissect in front of other lawyers called judges so that other judges can say the first judges were wrong and the Supreme Court can say the second lot were wrong. Sure there’s such as a thing as law. We’re up to our necks in it. About all it does is make business for lawyers. How long do you think the big-shot mobsters would last if the lawyers didn’t show them how to operate?”

Chandler seems to have some fun with frustrations of the police over mental health concerns in society’s response to crime:
“You two characters been seeing any psychiatrists lately?”
“Jesus,” Ohls said, “hadn’t you heard? We got them in our hair all the time these days. …This ain’t police business any more. It’s getting to be a branch of the medical racket. They’re in and out of jail, the courts, the interrogation rooms. They write reports fifteen pages long on why some punk of a juvenile held up a liquor store or raped a schoolgirl or peddled her to the senior class. Ten years from now guys like Hernandez and me will be doing Rohrschach tests and word associations instead of chin-ups and target practice.

So you get the picture that there is a bit of preaching in this story. But we often never sure which attitudes align with Chandler’s own. I choose to believe the following words of Marlowe are close to his own, and I appreciate the tongue-in-cheek aspects behind them:
“You’re a damn good cop, Bernie, but just the same you’re all wet. In one way cops are all the same. They blame the wrong things. …Crime isn’t a disease, it’s a symptom. Cops are like a doctor that gives you aspirin for a brain tumor, except that the cop would rather cure it with a blackjack. We’re a big tough rich wild people and crime is the price we pay for it, and organized crime is the price we pay for organization. We’ll have it with us for a long time. Organized crime is just the dirty side of the sharp dollar.”
“What’s the clean side?”
“I never saw it. …Let’s have a drink.”

Through this tale we get a dose of the metaphor for the detective as a cynical but good hearted agent who strives to address the social ills of corruption and greed with truth and justice. But here the heroic aspects are infused with the tragic element of impotence in the face of rank consumerism and selfishness in society in the early 50s. Altman as the director of the movie version in 1973 (starring Elliot Gould as a surprise) highlighted the existential and chaotic aspects of this outlook and put a Don Quixote-like aspect to Marlowe’s tilting at windmills.
Profile Image for Anthony Vacca.
423 reviews284 followers
August 19, 2015
When it comes to Raymond Chandler’s novels starring the smart-ass, misanthropic PI Phillip Marlowe, there’s The Long Goodbye and then there's everything else Chandler ever wrote—and it’s a long, lonely drive in-between. The Big Sleep, Farwell, My Lovely, and The Little Sister are all seminal works of the hard-boiled genre, too be sure; and on any other day of the week each is its own fuel-injected suicide machine; but in a bare-knuckled brawl, these books are packing wet noodles for arms when they walk into the Thunderdome and go up against the Ayatollah of Rock and Rolla that is The Long Goodbye.

I was worried going into this book, on account of one of my most-loved and worshipped novels of all time, James Crumley’s The Last Good Kiss, is in part based off of this book (Crumley has said more than once in interviews that every good idea he had, he stole from Raymond Chandler). Luckily, these two novels are very separate beasts; while both feature plot-threads involving alcoholic, asshole authors, they go their own separate, heart-stomping ways.

If put on the spot for a fortune-cookie summarization of the two books, I’d say the The Last Good Kiss is about the fleeting temporality of love and the lingering heaviness of its loss, while The Long Goodbye, more than anything, is a slow-burning rumination on the nature of friendship.

In the earlier novels, all the events transpire usually under 48 hours, with Marlowe getting assigned a case in the first few pages, and then finding the first in a long trail of dead bodies by page 20. The Long Goodbye begins with a jarring but lovely change of pacing and tone, with Marlowe forging a chance-friendship with a charming loser of a war veteran. Weeks and months pass before the first body shows up around the fifty page mark, and it’s not until somewhere around the 100-page mark that the first signs of a case actually appear.

For a certain breed of mystery reader, this will probably sound like a terrible prospect, but then again, I am a different kind of mystery reader. I believe the genre can be a powerful medium for morality tales that can tackle all sorts of issues that I find important (i.e. the nature of good and evil, mortality, social injustice, the fallible nature of the American dream) and can be written in prose that is subtle, poetic, and painful. Bottom line: I consider mystery novels—when they are truly well-written and truly about something—as important as any other well-cherished work of literature.

I don’t really have it in me to try and give you a zesty teaser on the plot of this novel, some hokey hook that’ll make you say “Gee Wiz” and click on the want-to-read button. This book tired me emotionally, and I mean that in the best possible way. So I’m going to take my curtain call with this last bit: if you are a reader who loves a layered, complex story with characters whose motivations are hidden behind the veil of what is being said at any moment (including—in fact, especially—the narrator, Marlowe), if you enjoy a book that actually requires you to actively read, then this is a book I’d recommend.

Rest assured, there are murders and criminals and femme fatales and tough talk and shady characters and two-timing lovers and dirty cops and mysteries intertwined with mysteries, but all that’s just the icing on top. What’s underneath is where things get good.
Profile Image for Darwin8u.
1,599 reviews8,730 followers
February 2, 2016
“I was as hollow and empty as the spaces between stars.”
― Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye


Labels like genius and masterpiece get thrown around a lot in the arts. Certain writers are deemed to be brilliant and yet their stars fade quickly. Their notable books are soon forgotten, misplaced, unread and eventually pulped. Other writers seem to have the opposite trajectory. They are viewed as pulp or genre writers, but over time they seem to transcend the genre and even seem to dance on the graves of labels. They are iconic. Raymond Chandler is one of those later writers.

He is one of the Holy Trinity of detective novelists (along with Dashiell Hammett and James M. Cain). These are the men who built the hard-boiled noir house that everyone else lives in. He is a god and a poet. His dialogue seems to have just fallen directly from the swollen lips of a trash-talking demiurge. His novels are both the burn and the bush. His prose is both the wilderness and the mountain. He can kill-off the Alpha and seduce the Omega before you recognize your own face in the cracked mirror.

I can't think of a modern writer of detective or crime fiction that shouldn't be paying Chander's heirs some form of rent. I can't imagine a writer who wants to include a gun and a woman and a detective in a novel NOT consulting Chandler's novels for hints of inspiration. Obviously, I adore the genre and the writer, but even if I work hard to remove my own biases it is difficult to walk away from 'The Long Goodbye' without recognizing what a gift was thrown at our underserving, flat feet.
Profile Image for Andrei Bădică.
382 reviews154 followers
September 7, 2017
"Mallory s-a ridicat și s-a dus pășind lateral spre bărbatul cu păr roșcat. Când a ajuns pe la jumătatea distanței, polițistul cu păr cenușiu, Jim, a scos un țipăt înăbușit și a sărit spre Macdonald, agățându-se de buzunarul lui. Macdonald l-a privit surprins. A întins mâna lui mare, l-a apucat pe Jim de ambele revere ale hainei și l-a ridicat. Jim a agitat pumnii spre el și l-a lovit în față de două ori. Macdonald a strâns din buze."
"Am stat nemișcat, ascultând intens. Dincolo de mine nu era nici sunet, nici lumină. Am scos pistolul din tocul de la subraț și strângând patul, l-am coborât pe lângă corp. Respiram superficial, din vârful plămânilor. Atunci s-a petrecut ceva neașteptat. O rază de lumină a apărut pe sub ușa batantă care dădea spre sufragerie. Umbra aprinsese lumina. Ce umbră imprudentă! Am traversat bucătăria, am împins ușa, deschizându-o, și am ținut-o așa. Lumina se revărsa în alcovul care era sufrageria, dincolo de arcadă. M-am îndreptat într-acolo și, neatent-mult prea neatent! -, am trecut de arcadă."
Profile Image for David Gustafson.
Author 1 book118 followers
June 29, 2023
Outside of a 1940's Hollywood nightclub, a congenial drunk falls out of a Rolls Royce as his lady friend drives away leaving him on the pavement. Surprisingly, Raymond Chandler's alter ego, the cynical, private detective Philip Marlowe, picks the lad up and takes him to his home to sober him up.

Within the first few pages the window has been opened from the stifling, antiseptic culture of political correctness that is suffocating us today. The reader encounters a refreshing noir breeze from a writer who is not afraid to step on someone's toes or kick them in the shins with a little smack mouth:

- The girl gave him a look which ought to have stuck at least four inches out of his back.

- "He's just a lost dog," she added with a cool smile. "Perhaps you can find him a home. He's housebroken - more or less."

- She brightened up suddenly, "Oh- Las Vegas? How sentimental of him. That's where we were married."
"I guess he forgot," I said, "or he would have gone somewhere else."

- I caught the rest of it in one of those snob columns in the society section of the paper. I don't read those often, only when I run out of things to dislike.

The drunk is Terry Lennox. The lady is his ex-wife, daughter of a multi-millionaire, reclusive newspaper tycoon. Marlowe helps the badly wounded war veteran make his way to Las Vegas for a fresh start in life where a wartime buddy will give him a job. Shortly thereafter, he gets a letter from Lennox saying that he and his wife have not only reconciled, but have remarried.
A casual friendship develops upon his return. Marlowe feels sorry for the war hero who is little more than a kept man to cover up his wife's promiscuous lifestyle from the gossip columns and her strict father.

Late one night, Lennox shows up at Marlowe's door begging for a ride to Tijuana where he can catch a flight deeper into rural Mexico. He has to get away. His wife has been murdered. Marlowe complies and is no sooner back home than he is taken into custody to be repeatedly beaten and interrogated by the cops. He says nothing and is finally released after Lennox allegedly commits suicide in Mexico after leaving behind a confession.

Shortly after Lennox is buried in Mexico, Marlowe is threatened by the cops, the family's attorney, the District Attorney's office as well as a gangster who shared a foxhole with Lennox in Europe, to keep well away from any further inquiry into this matter. In spite of receiving a $5000 bill from Lennox as a token of their friendship that was mailed before his alleged suicide, what can Marlowe do? Lennox is dead and buried and the case is closed. For your historical perspective, may I add here that a brand new Cadillac club coupe cost $2700 in 1948 and yes, they actually had $5,000 bills back in the day! In fact Benny Binion, that congenial gangster-turned-businessman, had a wall of one hundred $10,000 bills hanging in his Las Vegas casino to inflame the Mom and Pop slots players into dreams of winning their way into a mansion of their own on Easy Street if only they would keep feeding his machines.

Life goes on. Marlowe is finally distracted from his friend's death when the publisher of a best-selling author wants to hire him to find out if his writer is being blackmailed for something from his past since he has gone on a violent drinking binge and cannot finish his latest pulp masterpiece. It is not about the novelist's contribution to mankind. The publisher needs the cash flow. Marlowe is reluctant to take this case which sounds like little more than "intervention" until the author's drop-dead, gorgeous wife gets him aside and explains that not only is her husband a violent drunk, but he has been missing for three days. Will Marlowe please find him? The prescient crime reader will intuit that this new assignment will somehow lead back to Terry Lennox's bludgeoned wife. Just do not expect a straight line across the pages to finger the real murderer. That would take all the fun out of this jaunty noir romp through 1940’s Hollywood.

Chandler's character etchings are as indelible as his smack mouth language. From cops with varying degrees of violence and inferiority to equally violent gangsters with a touch more of class, from the comfortable, cocktail party carriage trade lacking every component of class except oodles of money to their sultry wives bearing every shade of guile and adultery, from shyster doctors preying on the sick, the vulnerable and the elderly to everyday folks just trying to make a buck before heading home and popping a cold beer, Chandler populates his novels with an aquarium full of colorful, shimmering, unforgettable species.

Let me sprinkle a few more quotes into the aquarium:

- It was so quiet in the bar that you could almost hear the temperature drop as you came in at the door.

- Once in a while in this much too sex-conscious country a man and a woman can meet and talk without dragging bedrooms into it.

- "I have a good idea, Doctor. Why don't you see a good doctor?"

- He had short red hair and a face like a collapsed lung.

And from the femme fatales:

- "I always find what I want. But when I find it, I don't want it anymore."

- "Please be kind to me. I'm no bargain to anyone."

Promise me, promise me, do not, I repeat, do not peek at the ending! There are not many such surprises left on this side of glory.

Bonjour amigos,
David Gustafson
Las Vegas
Profile Image for Mohamed Khaled Sharif.
816 reviews918 followers
February 9, 2023

"لدى الفرنسيين عبارة تصف ذلك. الأوغاد لديهم وصف كل شيء وهم دائماً على حق:
أن تقول الوداع هو أن تموت قليلاً."

قرأت هذه الرواية بسبب "هاروكي موراكامي" الذي قال أنه قرأها فوق الستة مرات، وترجمها إلى اليابانية لشدة تأثره بأسلوبه، وبعدما انهيت الرواية نسيت هاروكي ووجدتني أقول لماذا لم نسمع بريموند تشاندلر كثيراً ويُذاع سيطه وتُترجم كتبه -الذي وجدت أنها كثيرة- فرواية "وداع طويل" بلا أدنى شك هي واحدة من أفضل روايات الجريمة والتحقيقات التي قرأتها في حياتي، والمحقق "فيليب مارلو" من أذكى المُحققين الذي قرأت عنهم، وذو شخصية فريدة للغاية، وذكاء يلمع بعينيه.

ما يُميز هذه الرواية عن أية رواية جريمة أخرى، أنها تحمل عُمقاً ومناقشات وقضايا مُعصدة تتشابك وتنحل لتتشابك أكثر، ثم تنحل في النهاية بإلتواءة جيدة، ومُفاجئة، والأكثر جاذبية أنه مُمهد لها طوال الأحداث، ولكننا لا نرى ذلك إلا بالتفجر الأخير عندما ظننا أن الرواية انتهت، ولكن كان هناك قنبلة في النهاية، ستُغير رأيك في أغلب الشخصيات، ولكنها ستجعلك واثقاً أن "فيليب مارلو" رجل ذو مبدأ مُحترم لا يخل به أبداً، وطوال أحداث الرواية ومُشاكسات "فيليب مارلو" الذي يعمل كمحقق خاص، مع الشرطة والعصابات، لكي يتوصل إلى الحقيقة، والحقيقة وحدها، طريق مُعذب مليء بالتساؤلات حتى حول نفسه، ينخرط "مارلو" في القضية حتى تصير حياته، لا عجب أنه عندما انتهت الحكاية ظل وحده بلا رفقة، فقد تأثر وانخرط فيها، ولمسها، ارتبط بها عاطفياً وليس فقط من البداية، ومُساعدته لأحد الشخصيات، ولكن طوال الأحداث وحتى النهاية.

الرواية أيضاً تستعرض الحقبة الزمنية بستينيات القرن الماضي، من خلال بعض الشخصيات التي مثلت الشرطة ورجال الأعمال ورجال العصابات، وأصحاب الصُحف، وكيف يخدمون بعضهم البعض، وقد يتعمدوا في تزييف الحقيقة من أجل المصالح المُشتركة. وكيف يُمكن أن يصل تزييف الحقيقة إلى التلاعب في الوقائع حتى، وتغيير مسار الأحداث، وكيف أن لغة المال هي اللغة الوحيدة السائدة حتى بين أعلى القيادات في الشرطة والقضاة وأيضاً الصحف ورجال العصابات، الكل عبداً للمال بشكلاً ما. ولم تُغفل الجانب الاجتماعي أيضاً وتأثير الحرب على الشخصيات، أحد الشخصيات حصل على ندبات بسبب الحرب، وبشكلاً ما كانت الحرب هي هزة نفسية له حولته كما رأينا في الأحداث، أيضاً وجود عنصر النساء كان فعالاً وحقيقياً، الإغواء الأكثر شراهة من المال، ولكن من قال أن الجمال لا يقتل؟

رواية بوليسية كلاسيكية من الطراز الأكثر من جيد، مكتوبة بألغاز تُحل توالياً، حتى تتفجر عند النهاية، أحداثها جذابة غير مُملة على الإطلاق، وعملية التحقيق والبحث نفسها لم أقرأ مثلها من قبل، وجاءت الترجمة جيدة، لكنها كانت تحتاج مراجعة أخيرة من أجل التدقيق في بعض الكلمات.

بكل تأكيد يُنصح بها.
Profile Image for Aubrey.
1,358 reviews793 followers
September 17, 2014
People. They pass through your life, your mind, your heart, bundled in their own worlds with their wants and needs and feelings. And they'll tangle you up and drag you with and leave you with a lump in your throat and a weight in your gut. That's the best case scenario. Worst case scenario you end up broken, in jail, dead. Philip avoids the latter case with an insight into the human condition so instinctive and accurate it is frankly terrifying. Doesn't help him at all with the former though.

Besides all that, he is a singular character with singular motives. He would have been an excellent knight in the medieval ages, but I have a feeling that he wouldn't have been drawn to such an auspicious living. His inherent moral code is tempered by a fixation on the seedier side of living. He craves the city, a filthy machine that rests on a vicious underbelly and is topped with a slathering of sickening gilt. Guilt? Same difference. He lives to solve the problem without regard to both those he affects and those who affect him; he must have an indifference to life made of steel, if not a mental complex the size of the city he resides in. I'd have to read more into him to find out. Which I think I shall.

All discussion of the main character aside, the crime was tantalizing, the plot moved at a compulsively readable place, and you have to love witty banter, even if much of it was bluffing and bullshit. That's why we have Marlowe though, to carve through all the things people say and find what they actually mean. You know, I think he also would've made a cool English professor. I'm not sure how well street smarts would have translated to character and plot analysis, but humans really haven't changed that much in the past millennium or so. Different words, but our motives and thought patterns still follow stupidly predictable ways for those who can see it. Raymond Chandler can definitely see it, and shows it to the rest of us in a way that leaves us craving more. There's no greater escape from the bullshit of your own life than through a novel that cuts through its own, and it is inherently addicting.
Profile Image for Paul Ataua.
1,454 reviews144 followers
April 5, 2022
Marlow is back and drawn into the nightmare world of rich alcoholics, adulterers, and of course, of murder. A solid Philip Marlow story full of twists and ever increasing complications that kept me there right to the end. I enjoyed the experience even I felt it was a tad too long and the Marlow of the books never seems as powerful a character as the one that I got from the movies in my youth.
Profile Image for [P].
145 reviews525 followers
November 25, 2015
Tom was a quiet, reserved kind of guy. Which at the time was unusual within my circle of friends. Most everyone I knew back when I first returned to Sheffield was a lush, a druggie or just plain crazy. I made friends in pubs and clubs. My friends didn’t exist in the daytime. Except Tom. He was 24/7. Normal. I was in a bad way myself, although I couldn’t see it. Perhaps the company I kept gave me a false sense of my emotional and physical well-being. When J is getting the sack because he has been on a Ketamine binge and can’t stand up for two days, and Alison is turning up for lectures with semen in her hair, you don’t feel so crummy. Everything is relative.

And everything pointed to Tom outlasting every one of us. You didn’t talk about it. You just knew. Only a fool would have thought otherwise. Yeah, Tom made fools of us all. He didn’t dance in clubs, and so you thought he was shy, standing off by himself most of the evening. He made comments about his appearance, and you credited him with a dry, deprecating sense of humour. He didn’t do drugs, didn’t take nameless girls home, and you didn’t judge, you admired him for it. What a sensible guy. If only we could be like him.

Yet sometimes I would wonder. And in my wisdom would take Tom for a drink. It is all I knew how to do. I hoped that would help somehow, that he would see it for what it was: an inadequate but heartfelt gesture of solidarity or empathy. I didn’t know what he was really thinking. You didn’t ask; he didn’t tell. That is just the way it was. And all the while he carried on slipping. A little at a time; almost imperceptibly. Until one day he was gone. The guy we thought would go places, did. And he didn’t come back.

I think about those times a lot. About Tom in particular. Mop-haired Tom, so unassuming. If his name ever now comes up people like to say his situation was hopeless. That is their comfort blanket. That he couldn’t deal with the things that were bothering him, and he couldn’t have been saved. I guess it makes them feel better to think that way. All I know is that whatever he was up against, whatever he was grappling with, he lost. That no longer surprises me. Life is a dirty fighter, I’ve found. Of course, I wish I could have done more. I wish I had. It hurts to know I failed him. Maybe there is nothing I could have done. Some people are not made to endure. But futile effort is like a shot of whisky, it can calm the nerves.

Raymond Chandler once wrote that to say goodbye is to die a little. Well, I never even got to say goodbye. It was a surprise to me that reading The Long Goodbye brought all this back up. It is not something I had expected. I was ready for wise-cracking PI’s, sultry dames, tough guys, and all-round dumb fun, but I wasn’t prepared to be so moved, to have some of my personal sore spots fingered so aggressively. I guess guilt is like a blood stain, it takes a long time to fade. But I don’t want to give the impression that the book is only worthwhile as a kind of Proustian madeleine. The truth is that many of the characters – including Eileen Wade, strangely enough – got to me on their own terms, just like they got to Philip Marlowe. And the credit for that goes to the author.

“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.”

The novel centres around the lives, and deaths, of two men, Terry Lennox and Roger Wade. As introductions go, Terry’s is one of the best. Marlowe first encounters the man hanging out of a Rolls, blind-drunk. Also in the car is his beautiful ex-wife. Immediately one gets a sense of each character’s personality, or role-to-be in the novel. The ex-wife is hard-nosed, unsympathetic, dispensable; Marlowe is, against his better judgement, and for no personal gain, drawn to Lennox and wants to help him; and Terry is vulnerable, in need of help, and likely to bring in his wake a whole lot of trouble. One understands very quickly that he is one of life’s perennial losers [a word I use without any negative connotation].

Lennox’s physical appearance is also significant. He’s a young man with a shock of white hair and comprehensive scarring on his face [which a doctor has attempted to fix with plastic surgery]. The scars were picked up during the war [and this is also significant, but I’ll touch upon that later]; they act within the novel as a physical representation of his emotional, inner life. Lennox is, both emotionally and physically, damaged goods. Marlowe isn’t in much better condition himself. He’s getting older [he’s 42], wearier. His wise-cracks, which readers seem to so cherish, struck me as angrier, or more bitter than usual, rather than admirable bravado or swagger.


[Elliott Gould as Philip Marlowe, in Robert Altman’s film version of the book]

What ties Marlowe and Lennox together is that both are, essentially, alone and feeling it. They drift towards each other out of a pretty basic human desire for contact or friendship. It is worth noting that Marlowe doesn’t know why he cares about Lennox. The men do not share interests, they do not really talk to each other all that much, but they could be said to need each other. At the beginning Terry is described by his ex-wife as ‘a lost dog,’ which is apt, but that phrase could also be applied to Marlowe too; in fact, it could be applied to every character in the book. It is interesting that the focus throughout is on moneyed people, privileged people; Chandler seems to be at pains to point out that being flush doesn’t stop you from fucking up, or getting sad. Indeed, The Long Goodbye is a terribly sad book, bleak even; its overriding message is that, as a result of two wars, the world is quickly going down the toilet, that humanity is starting to collapse under the weight of its own faeces. The wars, Chandler suggests, have taken our innocence, and left us worn-out, seedy, cynical and self-obsessed.

I’ve read elsewhere that Chandler intended for The Long Goodbye to be different from his other books. Apparently, he did not set out to write a Marlowe novel, but eventually lost his nerve. Wanting to ditch his famous narrator would indicate that the author was aching to spread his proverbial wings, was perhaps gunning for something more personal and with more depth. If that is so, then one might look to Roger Wade, the alcoholic writer, as the most obvious example, for not only is he different from what one would usually encounter in Chandler’s stuff, but he could even be said to be a stand-in for the man himself. Chandler’s own problems with drink are well-documented, but the parallels between him and Wade are not restricted to that. Both are writers, of course, but both are also struggling with their work. Wade considers himself to be a hack [he writes genre novels, historical bodice-rippers] and is tired of conforming to a formula. He even mentions his reliance upon similes, which is something that Marlowe [and by extension Chandler] also relies upon. Yet if he was taking a shot at himself here, I think Chandler is wrong to put himself down; for me, great similes are an art, and he was something of a master [he describes one man as having a face like a collapsed lung, for example]. In any case, it is clear that he felt dissatisfied with the writing process, that he found working within the PI, hard-boiled genre restricting.

“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.”

To this end, one finds the author experimenting a little. For example, during the Wade storyline one is allowed to read something he wrote while drunk out of his mind, which turns out to be a strange, stream-of-consciousness self-pitying ramble reminiscent of Gass’ The Tunnel or Under the Volcano, Malcolm Lowry’s great masterpiece. In fact, all the Wade chapters reminded me of Lowry, and that is a big compliment. This is not to say, however, that there isn’t any of the dumb fun I mentioned earlier. There are still dames, and femme fatales; there are murders and mysteries; there are crooks and hoodlums; and there are plenty of great one-liners, and square-jawed, big-balled machismo. It is simply that these familiar, well-worn things run alongside broader, more satisfying existential, moral concerns, while also delivering characters that we feel as though he get to know and care about.

Having said all this, it would be remiss of me to finish this review without mentioning some of the book’s less successful aspects, because it is certainly not flawless. It is episodic, and the structure is pretty poor, but then structure was never Chandler’s strong point. Nor was plot, which, here and elsewhere, is plodding and anti-climatic [although I think that is less of a problem with this particular novel]. A bigger issue, however, is the ending. Indeed, it would be a service to the author to quit about ten pages before the finish line, because the ultimate twist, the reveal [quite literally] is more than a bit silly. It is such a shame that the book ends in disappointment [for the reader and for Marlowe, I guess], because what precedes those final few pages is fantastic. In any case, The Long Goodbye is fit to stand beside any novel you care to name; it is a Shakespearean tragedy, with a two-day hangover and old lipstick smears on its pillow.
Profile Image for Faith.
1,900 reviews535 followers
June 2, 2023
“I’ve had some rather strange experiences in this house. Guns going off in the night. Drunks lying out on the front lawn and doctors coming who won’t do anything. Lovely women wrapping their arms around me and talking as if they thought I was someone else. Mexican house boys throwing knives. It’s a pity about that gun but you don’t really love your husband do you?”

Private investigator Philip Marlowe has developed a tenuous friendship with the alcoholic and terribly scarred Terry Lennox. When Terry’s millionaire wife turns up dead, Marlowe reluctantly helps Terry run away. Marlowe’s belief in Terry’s innocence causes him to become involved with 3 terrible marriages, a drunken author, the powerful father of the dead wife, some gangsters, and the police who just won’t stop bringing Marlowe in for questioning. Good noir complicated plot and some social commentary. I loved the ending.
Profile Image for Jason Pettus.
Author 24 books1,324 followers
April 8, 2008
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com:]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.)

So are you familiar already with the "One Book One Chicago" (OBOC) program? We're not the first city to do it (in fact, we stole the idea from Seattle), but are definitely now the largest city in America to do so; basically, roughly three or four times a year the Mayor's Office and the public library system choose an important and popular book (usually a 20th-century novel), stock the various libraries around the city with thousands of extra copies, host a whole series of events around the city tied to the book itself (often co-sponsored by various creative and corporate organizations), and otherwise do as much as possible to convince the entire city of Chicago to read the book all at once, all in the same thirty-day period. And when it works, it really is quite the great little experience; imagine walking around a city of four million people and constantly running across others reading the same exact book you're reading, in cafes and on the train and at discussion clubs and while waiting in line at the supermarket, and all the fun little intelligent conversations such a thing inspires among complete strangers.

And the latest OBOC choice (their fourteenth) is a real doozy, too; it's The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler, the last great novel by one of the most truly American writers our country has ever seen, a book both popular with the mainstream and historically important to the world of arts and letters. And indeed, Chandler is so distinctly an American artist precisely because he both helped invent and perfect a truly American form of the arts, so-called "detective" or "crime" or "pulp" fiction, a genre which first gained popularity in the rough-and-tumble first half of the 20th century and is by now an international phenomenon and multi-billion-dollar industry. It's the perfect genre for Americans to have latched onto, fans say, because crime fiction examines the exact dark side of the coin which pays for the American Dream as well; this idea of a truly market-driven, truly free society, whereby busting your hump and believing in yourself can legitimately get you ahead of all the other schmucks of the world, whether that's through noble activities or criminal ones. No one is better suited than an American, the theory goes, to see the complex symbiotic nature of both these options -- the hidden dangers of capitalism, the dark seductions of crime -- and thus it is that this style of fiction is one that Americans are distinctly known for.

Now, that said, The Long Goodbye is also atypical of the usual type of work Chandler first got famous for; another detective tale to be sure, starring his usual standby antihero Philip Marlowe, but this time a wearier and more socially-conscious man than before, in a tale written late in Chandler's life (in fact, just six years before his premature death). Because that's an important thing to know about Chandler, especially to understand the mystique surrounding his work and enduring popularity, is that he was a bit of a rough-and-tumble fellow himself, although unusually so; a pipe-smoking, chess-studying, erudite nerd who was nonetheless a heavy boozer and womanizer, someone who not only managed to snag a lucrative corporate executive job in the middle of the Great Depression but also lose it because of showing up to work drunk too many times in a row. Chandler had never meant to be a full-time writer, sorta stumbled into it ass-backwards because of his vices, and was always very critical of the other things going on in his industry and the other people being published; it's because of all these things, fans claim, that Chandler writes in such a unique and distinctive style, and the fact that such stories got published at the exact moment in history they did that ended up making him so popular.

Because that's the other thing to understand about Chandler if you don't already, that along with a handful of other authors, he helped define the "smart pulp fiction" genre of the 1930s, '40s and '50s, the same genre that spawned gangster movies, film noirs and more; so in other words, not just spectacular stories of derring-do among criminal elements, tales of which had already been getting published regularly for the lower classes since Victorian times, but also bringing a slick, Modernist style to the stories, a clean minimalism to the prose inspired by such contemporary "authentic" peers as William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway and more. Reading The Long Goodbye for the first time this week, in fact my first Chandler book ever, I can easily see why people have been going so nuts for his writing style for 75 years now and counting; because Chandler had a natural ability to get it exactly exactly right, to not underwrite his stories even a tiny bit and not overwrite them either, to bump up nearly to the edge of cheesiness at all times but to rarely ever step over. That after all is why literally thousands of pulp-fiction projects have rightly faded into obscurity now over the last half-century, but with writers like Chandler still being chosen for programs like OBOC; because Chandler had a born mastery over the subtleties of it all that most other writers before and after him have lacked.

For those who don't know, as mentioned The Long Goodbye concerns a recurring character of Chandler's named Philip Marlowe, a private investigator from whom we now derive many of our stereotypes concerning the subject -- the shabby urban office with the frosted-glass window, the sudden appearance of dangerous dames with gams that just won't quit, the tough-as-nails sad-sack private dick who don't take no guff from nobody no how. Ugh, see how easy it is to fall into cheesy Chandleresque mannerisms? And this is the flipside of reading Chandler anymore, of course, something you need to actively work against while reading his books if you want any chance of deeply enjoying them; it's imperative that you forget all the cultural stereotypes and cliches that have come from the world of pulp fiction, that you not immediately think of a tough-talking Humphrey Bogart while reading this but rather approach it as a contemporary reader in the 1950s would, one who has no preconceptions about what they're getting into. Because in many ways, a trench-coated tough-talking Bogart type is bad casting when it came to the Marlowe that Chandler originally presented to the public; his Marlowe is a lot more like the author himself, a quiet intellectual who mostly enjoyed staying at home, who talked in the clipped and gruff way he did merely because he was a borderline sociopath and nihilist, who wanted as little to do with the rest of humanity as possible.

Because man, the world that Chandler paints in The Long Goodbye is certainly not the most pleasant or optimistic one you'll ever come across; a world full of spoiled, weak little hairless apes, running around flinging their own excrement at each other and succumbing to their basest vices at the slightest provocation. And indeed, this is one of the other things this particular novel is known for, much more so than any of the other novels of Chandler's career, as being one of the first truly complex and brutally honest looks at the entire subject of alcoholism, a tortured look at the subject from an active addict who bitterly blames the moral weakness of the alcoholics as much as the disease itself. In Chandler's world, the majority of bad things that happen to people happen because of those people's own actions and attitudes; because they are petty, because they are weak, because they are greedy, because they are spineless. Sure, occasionally a person might get framed for a murder they didn't actually commit, or other such unfair crime; but ultimately that person has been guilty of countless other sins in the past for which they were never caught, making it impossible to exactly feel bad for them when it comes to the one particular trumped-up charge.

It's a delicious milieu that Chandler creates, but for sure a bleak one, a remorseless universe that like I said is punctuated by this sparkling dialogue that at all times shines; it's very easy to see after reading this why his work caught on so dramatically in the first place, and why organizations like the Chicago Public Library are still finding it so important to bring him to people's attention. And unlike a lot of other so-called "Important Historical Work," actually reading through The Long Goodbye never feels like some dated chore; I mean, yes, as mentioned, the dialogue has a tendency to border on cheesy, but usually stays on the good side of that line as long as you're not reading along out loud in a wiseguy New York accent. (And by the way, to see an excellent example of how to present Chandleresque dialogue in a non-cheesy way, please see my review of the truly brilliant 2005 Rian Johnson contemporary high-school noir Brick.) It's a book that not only delivers a simple lurid entertainment, but also gets you thinking about a whole variety of deeper topics for days and weeks afterwards; I'm glad the OBOC people picked it for the program, and I'm looking forward to attending the various Chandler-related events going on around the city throughout the rest of April. I encourage you to pick up a copy as well, if you haven't already.
Profile Image for Ian "Marvin" Graye.
874 reviews2,267 followers
November 12, 2019
Queer Eye for the Private Eye

"People have such queer ideas about private detectives."
Raymond Chandler, "The Long Good-Bye" (page 69)

Kiss Me Goodbye (An Ode to Philip Marlowe and Terry Lennox)
[Apologies to Martin Fry and Christopher Marlowe]

I never promised you eternity
I never meant to be unkind
All I gave, you returned to me
Now love's the last thing on your mind.

I never promised you a miracle
What you desired was a guarantee.
This song’s not meant to be satirical
Our love was just a carnal parody.

Nothing in this world's invincible
No one's heart is made of stone
Now I know I'm yours in principle
I'm the one thing you'll never own.

It only took a glass or two of bourbon
(Or were they gimlets?) downstairs at Victor’s
No way could our love be that suburban
We held each other like two constrictors.

I can’t recall what I metaphor
She seemed to be like a simile
You were more queenly than sophomore
Adorned with your silver filigree.

If I promise you infinity
There's so much more to share with you
Did you expect the holy trinity
In all I say and all I do?

Let me tell you this much, man to man,
There’s no love any greater than this
If you’ll be my star, I’ll be your fan
Make me immortal with just one kiss.

When you left, you were invisible
Although I drove you to the airport
I thought we’d be indivisible
Even if one of us had been caught.

It's not emotional extravagance
We said farewell a thousand times
Why pretend there'll be a second chance
Unless this last kiss changes your mind?

If you can live your life without me
Turn and walk away
Minutes turn to hours
Hours turn to days
If you can't stand a single moment
Then go but kiss me goodbye.

Profile Image for Dave.
3,104 reviews353 followers
February 22, 2020
The Long Goodbye

"The Long Goodbye" is the sixth novel in Chandler's Philip Marlowe universe, written some years after Chandler's other Marlowe novels and at a time when Chandler was going through a rough patch. "The Long Goodbye" is a large departure in some measures from the other Marlowe novels and has a different feel and rhythm to it altogether. Gone is the frenetic pace, the snappy dialogue, the quick pulling it all together. There is a certain melancholy, a wistfulness, to this one. And, it's more personal to Marlowe as he's emotionally involved with all the players. There are no more caricatures, no more typecasts. These are all characters developed slowly over a long novel. And of course the question is how well do you really know someone. Do you know what really makes them tick?
Profile Image for John Culuris.
174 reviews76 followers
June 13, 2017
It is generally agreed that The Long Goodbye, Raymond Chandler’s penultimate novel, is his final masterpiece. A single reading easily affirms that. A rereading, which brings with it a foreknowledge of events and the ability to consider all its far-reaching elements collectively, creates a corollary to that longstanding assertion: yes it is a classic--but it should not have been. There are several structural flaws, though each can be quelled with the same irrefutable response. For example: the book opens with several chapters dedicated to Terry Lenox--a drunk Phillip Marlowe helps and befriends--without anything of significance or anything of much interest happening; why should we, the reader, stick around for this? The answer: It’s Chandler and it’s Marlowe. When something finally happens and after its immediate consequences are faced, we move on to another case--an actual case--with no connection to Lenox or anything that had come before; why should we believe this book will end up with anything resembling a coherent story? It’s Chandler and it’s Marlowe. And after completing the second case almost immediately--the locating and retrieving of Roger Wade, an alcoholic writer who disappeared during a bender--the people in and around said writer keep dragging Marlowe back into their lives for no apparent reason; why should we believe there’s going to be some actual detecting in what is supposed to be a private detective novel? It’s Chandler and it’s Marlowe.

The Marlowe part of the answer is important. It’s the same reason a decade later John D. MacDonald created a character named Travis McGee, through whom he could comment on cultural and environmental matters. Marlowe is as self-aware as he is aware of the world around him, a character to whom social commentary comes naturally, the perfect vehicle for Chandler’s purposes. One of the ironies of The Long Goodbye is that Chandler puts most of his observations into the mouths of other characters. That would be a problem if Phillip Marlowe were merely a mouthpiece. At his core he is, as he has always been, the moral center of any situation, any group, any environment. It’s that essential, unwavering characteristic that allows a single character to elevate what should have been an uneven and disjointed novel.

I chose to reread The Big Sleep and The Long Goodbye back-to-back because Megan Abbott cited her own experience in doing so in an introduction to Reed Farrel Coleman’s Walking the Perfect Square (Busted Flush Press, 2008). She used Marlowe as a yardstick against which to measure the darkness of the overarching journey of Coleman’s Moe Prager--and, yes, there is some of that present in the 14 years between the two Chandler novels. The most obvious example here is an instance where Marlowe lets himself be put in a torturous situation that seemed avoidable. And yet when it comes to the subject of darkness I am drawn more to Bernie Ohls, Marlowe’s only friend in The Big Sleep; the only other honest person in that book, certainly the only honest cop. In The Long Goodbye Bernie Ohls is still fighting the fight but it’s no longer the good fight. He’s made compromises along the way, compromises Marlowe could never make. The two men contrast Chandler’s most famous quote: “Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid.” Marlowe, even after being engulfed by the nastiness of The Big Sleep, is still a man of honor. Bernie Ohls could not remain untarnished. And he is aware of it on some level as he stands next to Marlowe. Just as Chandler’s imitators are aware that they have also fallen short, perhaps because they too often fail to realize that the mean streets in question are almost never literal. Their failure was inevitable. Is there any doubt as to why?

It’s Chandler and it’s Marlowe.
Profile Image for Sandra.
923 reviews265 followers
June 10, 2017
“L’alcool è come l’amore. Il primo bacio è magico, il secondo intimo, il terzo un’abitudine. E poi si spoglia la donna”
C’è tutto quello che deve esserci in un romanzo del genere. Come principale protagonista c’è l’alcool, motore e spinta propulsiva della storia, che scorre a fiumi nelle case eleganti dei quartieri più esclusivi e nei bar silenziosi di Los Angeles; ci sono i bulli dal grilletto facile, grandi criminali tenutari di case da gioco in Nevada, messicani dal sangue caliente e con la violenza a fior di pelle; ci sono le pupe, splendide donne eleganti e sensuali che provocano bollori al primo sguardo (anche se poi, quando vai a guardare meglio, trovi marcio sotto pelle); ci sono poliziotti corrotti che girano scortati da gangster nelle strade di Los Angeles; ci sono anche poliziotti onesti che si sentono falliti per aver pensato che il mondo è diviso in due, i buoni e i cattivi da sterminare; ed infine c’è lui, Philip Marlowe, un duro, un cinico, un saggio che ha capito come va il mondo, cui è chiaro come “il potere d’acquisto del dollaro” sia ciò che fa girare le cose, ed il caso che gli si presenta ne è la lampante dimostrazione: la morte della figlia di un milionario californiano, magnate dell’editoria. Marlowe ci si imbatte perché il marito della donna è un suo “amico”, Terry Lennox, con il quale è abituato a condividere succhielli (bibite tipiche californiane, non pensate male!) malinconicamente seduti su uno sgabello del bar Victor. Cosa significa l’amicizia? Per Marlowe molto, tanto da spingerlo a immischiarsi in faccende pericolose, mettendosi in gioco seriamente, pur di salvaguardarla.
Il miglior Chandler letto finora, con un finale imprevisto e molto triste, che lascia con l’amaro in bocca, ma sempre più affezionati al rude investigatore.
Profile Image for Terry.
22 reviews6 followers
September 14, 2007
Chandler wrote tighter, tougher books, but this one was his masterpiece. I'd been pulled into loving noir by Hammett & W. R. Burnett but they didn't write like Chandler. The Long Goodbye has all the best snappy dialog and constant menace, but it had something more. It was cynical poetry, it had the brittleness and immediacy of the "existential", as we used to call it.

It had a thoroughly adult, disillusioned worldview but it also had a hero who refused to renounce his principles, even when his principles brought him nothing but grief. Marlowe's loyalty and friendship are wasted on the unworthy Terry Lennox. His best efforts are for naught on the blocked writer Roger Wade. His attractions are wasted on Wade's guileful wife.

All the little details of the book added to its luster. The $5,000 bill Lennox gives Marlowe to get him to Tijuana, the fussing about the right way to make a gimlet with the bartender, Marlowe punching Mendy Menendez in the gut out of sheer frustration. And the lyrical, cynical passages about L.A., about the cops, about the aging Marlowe himself are priceless. And it's true about the book being semi-autobiographical. The alcoholic, blocked writer Roger Wade is Chandler. Never a prolific author, we're all glad Chandler got this one written.
Profile Image for Carla Remy.
858 reviews76 followers
May 7, 2023

So I read this again after five years. I didn't remember much, I never do after one reading of Chandler. My reaction to it now is that it is extraordinarily long. It really takes its time and unpacks Marlowe's life, and it is a good book, but lengthy. I have a LOVE /HATE relationship with Chandler. I like this, the Big Sleep and the Lady in the Lake. But I really do not admire Farewell My Lovely or the Little Sister. And I have read all those twice. I've read the High Window only once, so I will have to read it again. And then... He has three other books I have not read. So... I have goals!

I'd never read this one before! I usually don't watch a movie if I want to read the book it's adapted from, but this was an exception, as I've seen the 1973 Altman version 3 times at least. It's irreverent and very 1973 Altman, and Elliot Gould is the best Marlowe ever. However they of course changed so much that it didn't detract from the book. It gave away the ending, but didn't capture the mystery itself. The book was still captivating, and I didn't even picture Elliot Gould (Marlowe says he's 6 ft and 1/2 an inch, so Gould was actually too tall). I thought it was one of Chandler's best. I liked Marlowe's observations, and his maturity.
Profile Image for Nigeyb.
1,243 reviews280 followers
September 15, 2022
Superb - but you know that.

I've read all of Raymond Chandler's books, some more than once, and, like P.G. Wodehouse, his literary charms never waver.

Wonderful writing, and the world weary Marlowe character, a 1930s knight-errant trying to rise above LA's endemic corruption and cynicism, make for a winning combination.

The Long Goodbye (1953) may well be the pick of the Marlowe books, his journey through the shallow and sordid world of the idle rich in LA's Idle Valley inspires disgust and makes for a classic backdrop for the familiar themes of privilege, politics, policing, gambling and organised crime.

It's got a great ending too.


Profile Image for Mike.
306 reviews149 followers
February 5, 2022

I was a little underwhelmed by The Big Sleep but liked it well enough that I thought I might over the course of a few years read all the Marlowe mysteries in order. But when late last year a friend of mine read The Long Goodbye, the sixth Marlowe mystery, and gave it a rare (for him) five stars, it occurred to me that civilization might very well collapse before I got a chance to read books #2-5, and at that point the pages of The Long Goodbye would be needed as kindling to warm the intrepid band of survivors I'd no doubt be a part of. I'd known for at least a couple of years that this book was going to be great, so why not just read it?

The plot isn't quite as difficult to follow as that of The Big Sleep, and yet there's a very elusive quality to this novel. In an early passage, as Marlowe sits in a bar waiting for a client and pitilessly observing the foibles of human nature (one of his favorite hobbies), he notices a man sitting and talking the bartender's ear off:

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.

And that's the case for most of the characters in the novel, as well. Terry doesn't know if he really killed Sylvia. Roger Wade doesn't know why he can't write anymore. The reader doesn't know if Eileen was really in love with a sailor who disappeared in Norway during the war (and doesn't know if Eileen really knows), and Marlowe doesn't know why he's so fond of Terry. But even these are just the most obvious questions, the plot points that a reader expects resolution to. What contributes to the unique atmosphere of this book, I think, is that Chandler is always hinting at something deeper.

This is very much a postwar novel, as well. We always hear that the 50s were a time of optimism and affluence in America, but Marlowe is preoccupied with the portents of a new world that's coming into being, a world of mass advertising and consumerism in which organized crime is "just the dirty side of the sharp dollar", and where the wealthy enjoy "one long suntanned hangover." Terry proposes the existence of this world to Marlowe, early on:

"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."

I guess it's not surprising to read that Chandler started writing after he lost his job in the Depression, because he writes like someone completely disillusioned with America. Not disillusioned however because of having lost, but because of the hollowness of the game itself. Sylvia's father Harlan Potter is an especially fascinating character in this respect, Marlowe at one point flippantly summing up the man's perspective- "You don't like the way the world is going so you use what power you have to close off a private corner to live in as near as possible to the way you remember people lived fifty years ago before the age of mass production. You've got a hundred million dollars and all it has bought you is a pain in the neck"- as well as the alcoholic writer Roger Wade, who's miserable despite all the money he's made on his popular sex-and-swordplay novels.

Chandler is also one of those rare writers who's able to combine profound depth of character and theme with a truly compelling plot. As I mentioned, I didn't find it as ungraspable as that of The Big Sleep, in fact I'm pretty certain I was able to follow it (having seen the Altman movie twice definitely helped, even though there are significant differences), but its complexity and precision coexist with its ambiguity- ambiguity not so much in terms of what happens, but why it happens. The greatest mysteries lie within ourselves. Another reviewer mentioned that they found Marlowe's passivity in this novel strange. But the novel is stranger than that, it's almost as if this entire story sort of happens to Marlowe, almost as if Sylvia's killer wants to be caught.

Furthermore, if Marlowe hadn't liked Terry enough to try to help him, there might not have been any story at all. Or it wouldn't have involved Marlowe, anyway. In other words, it all hinges on an impulse that even he doesn't understand. Their friendship reminded me somewhat of The Great Gatsby, although Marlowe never envies or mythologizes Terry in the way that Nick initially does Gatsby. Some might consider it a flaw that what Marlowe sees in Terry is never made explicit. But I think we know enough to speculate. Terry lives among the wealthy, sure, but deep down he despises it and despises them; Marlowe recognizes Terry as someone who's been changed forever by the war, a "moral defeatist" who can now live in any way, under any code of morality, as long as he's comfortable. Seems to me that Marlowe is a crusader at heart (it surprised me to realize this, especially given the way Elliott Gould plays him throughout most of the movie), and he's responding to someone who could have been an ally, should have been, but who no longer has the ability to care.

That's a theory, anyway. On the other hand, sometimes friendship is a mystery. And as much as I love the Altman film, the one thing that I think it's missing, that Chandler's novel depicts so movingly, is that feeling of having a friend who's doomed, who might even have done something terrible, but still you can't help but love him. As Marlowe thinks, "He had been a man it was impossible to dislike. How many do you meet in a lifetime that you can say that about?"
Profile Image for Shannon.
901 reviews235 followers
November 6, 2020
This time around Marlowe runs into a drunken writer, a wounded beauty and a lot of headaches. Narrated by Elliot Gould.

MY GRADE: B plus.
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