Thursday, 16 October 2008

Grandfield on Chandler

I'm a relatively recent convert to Raymond Chandler: at university I studied psychology (among other things), and as part of our linguistics work we studied some of Chandler's preening, horribly self-regarding letters to a young, female admirer. These put me off him for years, until a burgeoning interest in film noir led me to his movie work, and then back to the books. I then found I had been a fool to dismiss him.

Geoff Grandfield, discussed earlier in connection with Graham Greene and Joe Simpson, has designed covers and interior illustrations for several Raymond Chandler books put out by the Folio Society in recent years. These are the justly famed novel The Big Sleep, and the story collections Blackmailers Don't Shoot and Trouble is My Business.

The covers are lovely things, simple and effective Art Deco-influenced work in black, silver, steely grey and blue that fit the period of the writing without looking remotely dated.

Here are some of the equally evocative interior illustrations--click for bigger versions.

I only wish Folio books weren't prohibitively expensive, because they really know what they're doing; but then I guess you gots to pays for quality.


The Retroist said...

They would look amazing on my bookshelf. I just need to save up some cash to pick one up.

JRSM said...

They're pretty pricey, aren't they? I hope to have an interview here with Mr Grandfield soon.

Yoknapatawpha Kid said...

Dear Caustic Cover,

this is a great entry on Chandler! My name is Peter Ricci, and I am a college student and writer who currently contributes to Too Shy to Stop, an upstart online magazine focused on culture and the arts.

I found you entry, as it would turn out, while doing research for my own essay on Chandler. I focus on some of the more remarkable characteristics of Chandler's work, especially his dialogue and use of symbolism. Grandfield's illustrations, by the way, are absolutely rad.

If you have the time, check it out! As a recent convert to the Chandler universe, I'd love for you to read it and comment.


Peter Ricci

JRSM said...

Hi, Peter: thank you for your comments, and for the link--very interesting stuff. I've left more comments over there.

Marc said...

The combo of pulp with gray ("old") Art Deco (I think of West Coast movie theaters on their last legs when he was writing) in those ills works particularly well in capturing the Chandler atmosphere. I have to confess, I became an avid crime novel reader a few years ago, but have always had the hardest time with Chandler: I sometimes feel he has weathered the least well of his genre generation with the writing, which often reads to me like a cliche of itself (the way Hemingway does, for instance). Tough-guy confrontation in almost every chapter in some of the novels can get almost monotonous (his few allowances for sentimentality are almost, weird as it is for me to say so, his stand-out moments for me). A giant exception for The Big Sleep, of course: it doesn't get any better than those closing paragraphs.

JRSM said...

I know what you mean about Chandler (and even more so about Hemingway--he's become almost laughable, to me at least), but I think it was getting into him via 'The Big Sleep' that hooked me.