THE LIFE OF RAYMOND CHANDLER
by FRANK McSHANE
306 pages. Dutton. $12.50.
Twenty years after his last bow, the paradigm of detective-as-Lochinvar is still Raymond Chandler's incorrodable shamus, Philip Marlowe. He was, of course, a total fiction. As Chandler admitted, "the real-life private eye is a sleazy little drudge... a strong-arm guy with no more personality than a blackjack. He has about as much moral stature as a stop-and-go sign."
Marlowe was an appropriate creation by a man who was himself an anthology of ambiguity. Biographer Frank McShane, Professor of creative writing at Columbia University, offers sheaves of contradictions from Raymond Chandler's long...