Having read two Raymond Chandler novels now, I’ve placed him among my personal pantheon of literary greats. Other occupants are Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Joyce and Anthony Burgess.
Chandler is not the greatest story teller. He paid little attention to plotting. But he is a master of characterization and poetic prose. I can’t think of a writer I’ve read who is better at describing scenes and people and action than Raymond Chandler.
This essay appeared on Salon a few months ago, but it makes a good case for Chandler’s place in true literature.