Saturday, January 02, 2010

Subdued Magic Has a Cover

Subdued Magic, the forthcoming biography of Raymond Chandler by Tom Williams that I blogged about earlier, now has a (cool) cover:


And some associated jacket text:
To describe a book as Chandleresque is instantly to conjure a particular world. A world of violence; of mean streets trodden by lonely, hard-drinking private detectives; of shady bars inhabited by dangerous femme fatales women with the kind of bodies that would make a bishop kick out a stained glass window. It's the world of Philip Marlowe. A world left to us by Raymond Chandler the writer who, more than any other, defined modern fiction. What we know of Chandler himself, however, is shrouded in secrets and half-truths as deep and deceptive as anything in his magisterial novel The Long Goodbye. Born in Chicago in 1888, loneliness and desertion marked Chandler from the outset the disappearance of his alcoholic father forcing the boy and his doting mother back to Ireland, and eventually London, where he enrolled in the prestigious Dulwich College the proving ground of Wodehouse and Forester. Later, dissatisfaction as a civil servant and failure as a journalist sent him back to America, to Los Angeles, where after heroic, but rarely spoken of combat in the trenches during WW1 he began an affair with Cissy Pascal, a married woman eighteen years his senior who, following the death his vehemently disapproving mother, became Chandler's wife and the most troubled and troubling relationship of his adult life. It was only during middle age, after worsening alcoholism wrecked a lucrative career as an oilman, that Chandler seriously turned to the pulp and crime fiction that would soon make his name as well as open doors in Hollywood. Although success was to prove at best bittersweet. As Tom William's new biography demonstrates, Chandler's inability to realise his literary ambitions, a depressive and obsessive attitude toward his craft, infidelity, alcohol and a suicidal turn after the death of Cissy in 1954, were to prevent him ever recapturing the success and verve of his earlier novels. But what remained, as contemporaries as great as Auden, Waugh and Fleming recognised, was a body of work amongst the finest of its time, or any other, and a life touched by subdued magic. Tom Williams is a writer and journalist living in north London. He has previously written for the Observer and the Spectator, and is a protege of John Sutherland whose shared passion for Chandler, and own abandoned biography of the novelist, inspired Tom to embark on this book.
See the UK Amazon.com entry for it here--although Tom tells me the release date they list is a bit optimistic.

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