The identity of the Santa Monica Citywide Reads book for 2012 is a mystery no more.
The Santa Monica Public Library is pleased to announce The Lady in the Lake by Raymond Chandler as the featured book for 2012.
Santa Monica Citywide Reads is a community reading program that invites everyone to read and discuss the same novel in book clubs and other events held around the city.
2012 marks the program’s tenth anniversary and only the second time a deceased author has been featured, following Santa Monica favorite Christopher Isherwood in 2004.
Written by Raymond Chandler, the master of hard-boiled detective fiction, The Lady in the Lake was first published in 1943 and was hailed by Time magazine as “an astringent, hard-bitten, expertly constructed and convincingly characterized story.”
The novel finds Chandler’s hard-nosed detective Phillip Marlowe investigating the disappearance of a doctor’s wife, and as with all of the private dick’s cases the mystery gets more tangled and complex with every turn of the page.
Set partially in “Bay City,” Chandler’s stand-in for Santa Monica, The Lady in the Lake is unusual for the author in that it also takes Marlowe outside of his standard beat of Los Angeles.
Santa Monica Citywide Reads selection committee members selected the novel because it is a solid representation of Chandler’s vivid writing style, a favorite amongst seasoned readers of noir, and a welcoming entry point for those who may not yet be familiar with Chandler’s work.
The Lady in the Lake was also a popular choice among library patrons who answered an online poll asking which Chandler book Santa Monica should read together.
Born in Chicago, IL in 1888, Raymond Chandler moved to Los Angeles in 1913 and made that city his home for much of the rest of his life.
A bookkeeper and oil industry man by trade, Chandler was also a fan of pulp magazine stories.
He taught himself how to write by deconstructing Erle Stanley Gardner’s formula for writing Perry Mason stories.
In 1933, Black Mask magazine published Chandler’s first story, “Blackmailers Don’t Shoot,” and from then on he considered himself a professional writer.
His first novel, The Big Sleep, was published in 1939, when Chandler was 51 years old.
He followed The Big Sleep with many more short stories and six full-length novels, including the classics Farewell, My Lovely, The Lady in the Lake and The Long Goodbye.
He also dabbled in screenplay writing, including the Alfred Hitchcock thriller Strangers on a Train and the Oscar-nominated Double Indemnity.
Chandler died in 1959 in La Jolla, CA.
Santa Monica Citywide Reads will begin in late February 2012 and continue through March 2012, and will feature free public book discussion groups led by volunteer facilitators and held in libraries, bookstores, coffeehouses, and other venues. Related special events are being planned, including an exciting slate of best-selling contemporary mystery authors influenced by Chandler, local history programs, film noir movie screenings, and much more.
For more information about Citywide Reads, visit http://smpl.org/Citywide_Reads.aspx or call the Santa Monica Public Library at 310.458.8600.
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