100 One-night Reads: A Book Lover's Guide by David C. Major100 One-night Reads: A Book Lover's Guide by David C. Major

100 One-night Reads: A Book Lover's Guide

byDavid C. Major, John S. Major

Paperback | May 29, 2001

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Readers everywhere know that nothing soothes the spirit like sinking into a really good book. If you're one of that happy band, you'll quickly recognize the authors of this inspired reading guide as kindred spirits. Here David and John Major have chosen one hundred books that can each be delightfully consumed in one quiet evening. Covering categories from fantasy to fiction, history to humor, mystery to memoir, this addictive volume features books to match all your moods—by both celebrated writers and gifted unknowns, including:

•  Russell Baker  •  Willa Cather  • Raymond Chandler  •  F. Scott Fitzgerald  • Graham Greene  •  Edith Hamilton  •  Dashiell Hammett  •  Helene Hanff  •  Ernest Hemingway  •  Patricia Highsmith  • Shirley Jackson  •  Henry James  •  W. Somerset Maugham  •  Mary McCarthy  •  Walter Mosley  •  Vladimir Nabokov  •  Patrick O'Brian  •  Barbara Pym  •  Phillip Roth  •  Vikram Seth  •  Isaac Bashevis Singer  •  C. P. Snow  •  Dylan Thomas  •  Evelyn Waugh  •  Edith Wharton  •  Laura Ingalls Wilder  •  Virginia Woolf

Each selection contains an entertaining discussion of what makes the book special, from an adventurous writing style to a unique sense of humor. The Majors also share insights about the authors and literary anecdotes, as well as recommend other gems on a similar subject or by the same author.

A literary companion to relish and refer to again and again, 100 One-Night Reads is a masterpiece in its own right!
Title:100 One-night Reads: A Book Lover's GuideFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:336 pages, 8.17 × 4.97 × 0.68 inShipping dimensions:8.17 × 4.97 × 0.68 inPublished:May 29, 2001Publisher:Random House Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0345439945

ISBN - 13:9780345439949


Read from the Book

RAYMOND CHANDLER The Big SleepRaymond Chandler was born in Chicago but spent most of his early life inEngland. He attended Dulwich College and fought with Great Britain'sRoyal Flying Corps during World War I. After the war he re-turned toAmerica, settled in Los Angeles, and had a successful business careerduring the 1920s in California's booming oil industry. He was wiped outfinancially by the 1929 stock market crash and the Great Depression thatfollowed it, and began to write crime stories for pulp magazines to makea living. Persevering in this precarious career, he won acclaim in 1939with the publication of his first novel, The Big Sleep. He wrote sixmore novels over the course of the next two decades, all featuring histough-guy detective hero, Philip Marlowe. In 1943, Chandler began towrite film scripts as well as novels and stories, and he achievedconsiderable success in the gritty and often grim films that Frenchcritics would later call cinema noir.Chandler's novels were strongly influenced by the work of hiscon-temporary Dashiell Hammett (p. 92), to the extent that Hammett andChandler are sometimes described as founders of a "California school" ofhard-boiled detective fiction. (A notable feature of Chandler's novels,especially, is that they convey very effectively the atmosphere ofcorruption that was characteristic of Los Angeles politics and thecity's police department and criminal justice system for much of thetwentieth century.) Philip Marlowe is a tough character whose attitudesand personal code are very much in the mold of Hammett's Sam Spade,though Marlowe is, generally speaking, a classier sort of detective thanSpade and deals with a richer, more polished clientele. Like all heroesof the genre, Marlowe is essentially a lone wolf who lives by his ownprivate moral code. He is interested in justice more than in materialsuccess, and will sometimes (as in this novel) pursue a case furtherthan his client has asked in order to satisfy his own sense of what isright.In The Big Sleep, Marlowe is hired by aging, infirm General Stern-woodto look into attempts by parties unknown to extort money from him inwhat amounts to blackmail. The general's daughters are both involved inunwise activities. Vivian, the beautiful elder daughter, is a compulsivegambler, which has given her some unsavory associates; these include herrecently disappeared husband, Regan, an ex-bootlegger and IrishRepublican Army veteran. The younger daughter, Carmen, is a seriouslydisturbed personality whose problems include substance abuse,promiscuity, and a total lack of moral sense. One element of Carmen'sdifficulties is that she has been photographed naked by Geiger, adistributor of illegal pornography. (Given the ubiquity of pornnowadays, it seems rather quaint that part of the plot of this novelturns on a conspiracy to distribute dirty pictures. How times change!)Geiger's business, in turn, is involved with that of Eddie Mars, apromoter of gambling and other illegal activities, who is someone withwhom Vivian has been involved.Of course, all of these people are immersed in murky dealings thatinvolve one another, and other parties as well, in unexpected andlabyrinthine ways. Marlowe's job is to disentangle as much of this aspossible while remaining true to himself and while shielding his client,the noble and admirable General Sternwood, from learning too much aboutthe unsavory activities of his daughters (though he guesses a great dealanyway). Romantic sparks fly between Marlowe and Vivian Sternwood, butthe circumstances under which they meet make it impossible for arelationship to develop. At the end of the book, Marlowe is as he was atthe beginning, a loner and an idealist.This is a very entertaining read, even if not every element of the plotholds together as tightly as one might like, and even though it is nolonger possible to summon up the expected amount of outrage overGeiger's illegal activities. Marlowe is a wonderful character, andChandler's spare, tough language is exactly appropriate for the genre.It is fun for the dedicated crime-novel reader to observe, too, howlater practitioners have learned from this early master of the form. The1946 film of The Big Sleep, starring the immortal team of HumphreyBogart and Lauren Bacall, is a true classic (William Faulkner worked onthe excellent screenplay).