The Annotated Big Sleep (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard)
“Nothing, even a book as singular and archetypal as The Big Sleep, comes from nowhere. What a gift, to see in part how Chandler made it. Under just three names, these annotators number among them two poets, an archivist and literary scholar, a gifted crime novelist, and three sleuths; reading it conveys the vicarious thrill of their innumerable discoveries. Chandler lucked out.”--Jonathan Lethem, foreward
A masterpiece of noir, Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep helped to define a genre and remains one of the most celebrated and stylish novels of the twentieth century. Now, this comprehensive, annotated edition offers a fascinating look behind the scenes of the novel, bringing the gritty and seductive world of Chandler’s iconic private eye Philip Marlowe into full color. Notes on the historical context of Chandler’s Los Angeles; excerpts from the author’s personal letters and source texts; explorations of the issues of gender, sexuality, race, and ethnicity that permeate the story; and important interpretations and clarifications enrich the reader’s understanding and situate the novel within the tradition of crime fiction that Chandler both built upon and made new.
The annotators have asked a group of LA authors to read favorite passages from the novel, followed by a talk by the annotators. Readers will include Judith Freeman, David Ulin, Steph Cha, Kim Cooper and Gary Phillips.
Raymond Chandler (1888-1959) turned to writing fiction at the age of forty-five, after a career as an oil executive. He published his first story in Black Mask in 1933, and his first novel, The Big Sleep, in 1939. Over his lifetime, Chandler wrote seven novels, several screenplays, and numerous short stories, and became the master practitioner of American hard-boiled crime fiction.
Owen Hill is the author of two mystery novels, a book of short fiction, and several books of poetry. He has reviewed crime novels for the Los Angeles Times and the East Bay Express. He was awarded the Howard Moss residency at Yaddo in 2005.
Pamela Jackson is an editor, scholar, and librarian specializing in California literary and cultural history. She holds a PhD from UC Berkeley and an MLIS from UCLA, and was coeditor, with Jonathan Lethem, of The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick.
Anthony Rizzuto is a bookseller, professor of literature, and researcher. He currently teaches British and American literature and history at Sonoma State University.