Raymond Chandler died in 1959, leaving the fans of his detective anti-hero Phillip Marlowe wanting more. In the ensuing years, two excellent writers, Robert Parker and John Banville, have attempted to satisfy those desires.
Parker took up Chandler’s unfinished novel and finished it as Poodle Springs in 1989. Then he wrote a second Marlowe novel, Perchance to Dream, published in 1991. John Banville’s The Black Eyed Blond (under the pen name Benjamin Black) came out in 2014.
Now Lawrence Osborne has taken up the Marlowe sequel challenge, and he tells how that came about in an article in the New York Times. His book, Only to Sleep, came out earlier this year (reviewed by the Times here). Osborne recalls his days as a newspaper reporter on the California-Mexico border and the experiences that he integrated into the novel:
I was surprised by how little I remembered writing any of “Only to Sleep.” Had it come out so automatically, without the usual torments, as if channeled not by the ghost of a dead American writer but by the ghost of my own failed and pathless younger self? Apparently so.
The article is a fascinating read and a great insight into the mind of a top-rank author.
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