Unpublished Raymond Chandler Story Debuts in the Strand
(This weekend, an unpublished Raymond Chandler story debuts in the Strand. The short story is a searing indictment of the healthcare industry by one of the masters of the modern detective story. Here are some more details from Andrew Gulli, the managing editor of the Strand.)
ODDLY, I have Greek television to thank for introducing me to the works of Raymond Chandler. One of the things my sister and I lived for as expats growing up in Athens during the eighties was American or British television and film. This was before satellite TV, and cable hadn’t yet come to Greece, so we really had only two channels to begin with. And the number of English-language programs that made it through was limited indeed. But for a while, on Monday nights, I got to spend part of the evening with Philip Marlowe, Private Eye , starring the inimitable Powers Boothe. Through these brief encounters, I was hooked. Later, when I started reading Chandler’s stories, I better understood what had captivated me. I loved the terse, clean prose and crisp dialogue. The author said what needed to be said, and so much more, without unnecessary words—he made it look so easy. And, of course, I couldn’t get enough of Marlowe: the wisecracking knight in shining armor who realizes that for all his good intentions, things rarely turn out right.
Chandler’s fiction is as significant today as it was when he was writing in the 1930s, 40s and 50s. He not only took detective fiction out of what he called “Cheesecake Manor” and dropped it into the gritty streets of Los Angeles, he also modernized it and added layers of moral ambiguity that resonated with a generation of men and women who had lived through two world wars and the Great Depression. He also inspired the next generation of authors, including Elmore Leonard, Sue Grafton, Walter Mosley, Michael Connelly, and Karin Slaughter.
Since publishing works by some of Chandler’s contemporaries (James M. Cain, Cornell Woolrich, and Dashiell Hammett) in The Strand , I have often felt that Chandler was conspicuous by his absence—he belonged here. It took some research to find out where his papers were housed, but after several phone calls and emails with Colin Harris—the excellent superintendent of reading rooms at the Bodleian Library at them University of Oxford—we finally received a parcel in the mail, which included a previously unpublished short story by Raymond Chandler. When I opened the parcel in front of my colleagues, I made sure to do my best rendition of Sydney Greenstreet as Casper Gutman in The Maltese Falcon : “Now, after seventeen years…”
“It’s All Right—He only Died” was written by Chandler in the 1950s, yet it is as relevant today as it was then. This is the story of an apparently homeless man with a serious head injury who ends up in a hospital where the staff is reluctant to treat him due to his apparent lack of funds. Written in Chandler’s terse, no nonsense style, the story poses several interesting questions that will resonate with a modern audience dealing with the challenges of our current health care system.
I’d like to thank Sophia MacAskill of Ed Victor Ltd. for granting us permission to publish this little gem and for working tirelessly with us to make it happen. Also, a very big thank you to Louisa Jordan, our unsurpassed transcriber. And special thanks, of course, to Dr. Sarah Trott for all her help and ideas, and for writing an excellent and meticulously researched afterword to the story.
So, I’d like to invite our readers to venture into the mean streets or in this case into a mean-spirited hospital that Chandler crafted in this wonderful little gem by clicking here for several ways to read the story.