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  • Christopher G. Moore

The Passion of Raymond Chandler

The best writing is fueled by passion. In the case of Raymond Chandler, there is a strong case that his heart-felt passion for his wife was the dominant force that propelled his writing.

There is a biography published on 6th November 2007 about the relationship between Chandler and his wife. Richard Rayner recently reviewed 'The Long Embrace' by Judith Freeman in the LA Times

“Chandler enlisted in a Canadian regiment and went off to fight in World War I, in no small part, Freeman argues, "because he found himself in the untenable position of being in love with another man's wife." He came back, or was drawn back, to Los Angeles in 1919. After much argument and discussion, Julian Pascal agreed to bow out of the picture, but Cissy and Chandler didn't marry until 1924, when Chandler's mother -- with whom he'd been living -- died at last from an agonizing cancer. Only then, or a little later, did Chandler learn that Cissy was not eight years older than him, as he'd thought, but eighteen. He was 35, and he'd married a woman of 53.”

Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander, has described the new biography as “Part biography, part detective story, part love story, and part séance.”

From these preliminary reviews, there is a lesson to be drawn from Chandler’s passion for his wife. He used it as the platform from which he wrote crime fiction. What is important to realize is that Chandler didn’t write thinly veiled novels about his wife or their relationship. There are a fair number of novels (mostly self-published) that can be found in Bangkok bookstores where the writer has not used his passion for a loved one to create an original story. Instead he has written a book that revolves around his passion and the relationship that generated the passion. Most of the time this kind of Thailand novel fails to convince. It falls flat. A book about the discovery of love and a cross-cultural relationship while meaningful to the writer has little interest for general readers. Readers look for writers who use their passion (from whatever source it is drawn) to create credible, original and skillfully crafted, entertaining narratives. The passion itself should be hidden, left in the background, a source of mystery as to what inspired the writer.

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