The Long Goodbye - Raymond Chandler
This was my first exposure to Chandler and I was very, very impressed. Philip Marlowe really does live up to his iconic status. The mystery is quite convoluted and there are perhaps a few too many moving pieces, but Chandler does a good job keeping the reader engaged throughout. I really liked this Black Lizard Vintage Crime volumes. A local shop has tons of remaindered copies and they are a real bargain. I watched the Altman adaptation a week or so after putting the book down. A strange, and yet quite intriguing companion piece.
Dark Side of the Screen - Foster Hirsch
My parents gave me this for Christmas. It was an 'out of left field' choice, as I don't tend to discuss classic cinema with them. It was, however, a wonderful choice as I absolutely adored this book. Hirsch does an excellent job of organizing the various themes, and I truly appreciated the updated afterword in which he sounds like a giddy fanboy talking about recent noir discoveries. I really appreciated experts who are open minded and who believe their area of expertise to be a living, breathing thing.
Oryx and Crake - Margaret Atwood
I am not the world's biggest Margaret Atwood fan. I tend to admire her work more than I enjoy it. This science-fiction tale, which flips between a pre and post-apocalypse North America, is thoroughly enjoyable. Her writing is sharp here, and she does an excellent job of universe building. It is, however, somewhat rudderless in the second half. That lack of coherent vision, along with some soon to be dated pop culture references, hurt the final product. I have a feeling that Atwood has actually looked into the future, and this serves as a warning. My wife has a copy of Year of the Flood, and I will like tackle it within the next few months.
Red Harvest - Dashiell Hammett
To me, this book should be admired as literary innovation rather than as a story itself. It meanders and drags in places. The ideas are all there, and the dialogue is very hard boiled in spots but the whole thing does not fit together all that well. Hammett put all of those elements together in The Maltese Falcon. It also inspired somewhere around a million authors and led to a new genre and countless works of pulpy crime fiction.