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L.A. from Every Angle
Posted April 01, 2010 to photo album "L.A. from Every Angle"
As Noah Baumbach’s Greenberg shows, there are many different L.A.s inside the city limits. Joel Bleifuss takes us on the tour of how artists imagine Los Angeles.
Slide 9: L.A. for the Hard-Boiled
Raymond Chandler (1888-1959). Though born in Chicago and raised in England, Chandler would become L.A.’s most famous novelist. His detective stories give life to the world of Los Angeles, a city that he described – speaking through his private dick, Philip Marlowe – as “lost and beaten and full of emptiness”, “a neon-lighted slum” and a city “with no more personality than a paper cup.”
Chandler’s biographer Frank MacShane writes in The Life of Raymond Chandler, “There is something appropriate in Chandler’s choosing the detective story as his vehicle for presenting Los Angeles. ...The detective story, so peculiar to the modern city, can involve an extraordinary range of humanity, from the very rich to the very poor, and can encompass a great many different places. Most of Chandler’s contemporaries who wrote ‘straight’ fiction—Fitzgerald, Hemingway and Faulkner, for example—confined themselves to a special setting and a limited cast of characters. The detective story, however, allowed Chandler to create the whole of Los Angeles in much the same way that such 19th-Century novelists as Dickens and Balzac created London and Paris for future generations.”