Friday, February 25, 2011

The Big Sleep

by Raymond Chandler

I hate to give up on a book, but, hey, life's too short to waste time on a bad book. (What's really terrible is I didn't even want to take the time to watch the movie, which is the least I could do.)

Hardboiled crime novels are just not my thing. I have no interest in them. This book was chosen for the February book discussion, which is why I made the attempt. There is very little chance I would have picked this up on my own. It feels very dated and cliche. When it was first published, I'm sure it was ground-breaking and a huge piece of popular culture. It must have been since Chandler "set a standard to which others could only aspire" and "created a body of work that ranks with the best of twentieth-century literature," according to the back of the book. And for it's genre, I'm sure it's excellent, but I am just not into this crime genre.

The book is only mildly exciting and the plot barely kept me interested. Chandler's writing style is minimally descriptive and I couldn't get a good sense of the scene or the characters. I was not invested in the characters whatsoever, which made it hard for me to care about the plot. If I have no emotional connection to your characters, positive or negative, then I don't care who lives or dies or if any mystery gets solved. I disliked the homophobic sentiments and physical abuse of Carmen. There is little to no fluidity between chapters; it feels like reading a screenplay, one set fading into the next.

Plus, a porno book shop in Hollywood isn't such a scandal these days. Today, the plot would be: the Sternwoods let the nude photos of Carmen get leaked to the public but try to make a big deal out of a half-hearted cover-up so Carmen ends up famous because of her emotional suffering (and the fact that everyone's seen her boobs) and she gets her own reality show.

The real problem for me is that this genre has been spoofed over and over and over, and I can't take it seriously. On to the next.

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