Reflections On Marlowe

There was a lot of promise in the idea. Let a bunch of writers loose into Marlowe’s Los Angeles. After all, he would be their lens. Except that in Raymond Chandler’s Phillip Marlow: A Centennial Celebration, Marlowe is transformed into a mirror that reflects the lesser talents of the collection’s authors.

The anthology was worth reading. But that’s the kindest thing I can say about it.

The language that shows the rough grit of Los Angeles and environs is missing. The sharp eye for details that show more than they tell is absent.

Chandler laid something bare of the human heart. Marlowe, who was alone, saw the connections between people. Most of these authors miss the importance of that.

A number of these writers get caught up in name dropping makes and models of various consumer goods so you know their story is set when it’s supposed to be. They forget that it’s people who make the era.

Sure, they can spin a yarn whose conclusion is the identification of a murderer and on that level, the stories are satisfying enough.

Just ignore the name on the tin, because almost nowhere is Marlowe present in these pages.

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