Winter reading

Here is a short piece of mine on

The Long Embrace: Raymond Chandler and the Woman He Loved by Judith Freeman. This book is essential to anyone looking for a) a love letter to Los Angeles, b) a chance to cultivate an obsession with Raymond Chandler, or c) a new model for writing intelligent nonfiction. It’s a colorful local history of the California metropolis in the first half of the 20th century plus an erotic biography with lots of speculative commentary interspersed, most of all on how Chandler conducted his unorthodox love life (he married a woman 18 years his senior). Freeman often veers into the first person, yet she retains some level of objectivity by always presenting multiple hypotheses. The Long Embrace sheds more light on its subject than do most standard biographies. It turns out that Chandler’s love for his wife, Cissy, is essential to understanding how he constructed his female temptresses. And in evoking a centerless Los Angeles, Freeman helps us appreciate the essential vision of the Chandlerian mystery: that people, like the vast cities they inhabit, are really unknowable.

Here is the whole winter books symposium.


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