New for 2009, the Festival is launching its very own Big Read in partnership with Penguin Books to get as many crime fans as possible reading in unison one of the classics of the crime fiction canon – The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler.
The Big Read celebrates the seventy-year anniversary since the first publication of the novel that defined the hard-boiled school of crime writing and introduced the world to the iconic detective, Philip Marlowe. Chandler’s anti-hero has become the blueprint for a thousand paler imitations over the years: the laconic loner with a taste for drinks as dry as his wit, the shabby downtown shamus with a streak of the white knight within.
Today’s writers often cite The Big Sleep as an inspiration for their own work; the book that made them fall in love with the detective story. In his introduction to the recently re-launched Penguin edition, Ian Rankin writes:
“The Big Sleep opens with my favourite paragraph in all crime fiction and doesn’t let up until a wonderfully written coda. It was one of the first crime novels I ever read, and is still one of the best.”
The Big Sleep is required reading not just for crime lovers, but for all who enjoy truly great books, so get your hands on a copy from your local bookshop or library and take part in the Theakstons Old Peculier Big Read.
Big Read Events
For readers living in or around the Harrogate district, the Big Read will be bringing the dark underbelly of Marlowe’s 1930s Los Angeles to a place near you with libraries across the district hosting special Big Read Reading Group events lead by modern day crime author and Chandler buff Martyn Waites.
Ripon Library – 2.30pm, Tuesday 9 June. Tickets £2.50, tel: 0845 034 9524
Harrogate Library – 7.30pm, Tuesday 9 June. Tickets £2.50, tel: 0845 034 9520
Masham, The White Bear pub – 2.30pm, Wednesday 10 June. Free to attend.
Knaresborough Library – 7.30pm, Wednesday 10 June. Tickets £2.50, tel: 0845 300 5112.
Places are limited so phone your preferred library to book your tickets.
Big Read Book Crossings
Readers can also look out for free copies of The Big Sleep to turn up in locations across Harrogate. This summer Marlowe will be staking out…
…The Victoria Shopping Centre
…Harrogate Train Station
…The Blues Bar
…The Crown Hotel
Pick up a book – read it and pass it on!