A Mysterious Something in the Light: A New Biography
- Using recently discovered letters, Tom sheds new light on Chandler's life in the 30s and gives a detailed account of what happened after he left the oil industry, how he came to write his first pulp stories and how he came to write The Big Sleep
- The first book that looks at Chandler's early life in any detail and shows how it affects his fiction.
- The first book to look at Chandler's poetry as well as his prose.
- Features interviews with Natasha Spender and the daughter of Jean Fracasse (Chandler's secretary at the end of his life).
What we know of Raymond Chandler is shrouded in secrets and half-truths as impenetrable and deceptive as anything in his magisterial novel, The Long Goodbye. Now, drawing on new interviews, previously unpublished letters and archives on both sides of the Atlantic, literary gumshoe Tom Williams casts light on this most mysterious of writers.
The Raymond Chandler he reveals is a man troubled by loneliness and desertion from an early age – experiences that fuelled his writing as much as they scarred his life. Born in Chicago, in 1888, the disappearance of his alcoholic father forced Chandler and his doting mother back to Ireland, and eventually London. Later, intent on forging a new career unconstrained by the petty mores of the British middle class, he returned to the US – to corruption-ridden Los Angeles – where he met his one great love: Cissy Pascal, a married woman 18 years his senior.
It was only during middle age, after worsening alcoholism wrecked a lucrative career as an oilman, that Chandler seriously turned to crime fiction, although his success was to prove bittersweet. An obsessive attitude towards his craft, unrealised literary ambitions and a suicidal turn after Cissy’s death combined to prevent him from recapturing the verve of his earlier novels.
In this long-awaited new biography, the most balanced and comprehensive yet written, Tom Williams shadows one of the twentieth century’s true literary giants and considers how crime was raised to the level of art.
TOM WILLIAMS was born in Newcastle in 1981 and was educated at University College London. He now lives in Kentish Town and works in publishing. A Mysterious Something In The Light is his first book. Follow him on twitter: @twilliams81
Raymond Chandler: A Mysterious Something in the Light
by Tom Williams
is published by
Aurum Press on 26th July 2012 at £25
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