A fascinating mixture of surreal political fable and romantic crime story, Yuri Herrera’s prize-winning novel Kingdom Cons will be available in English for the first time this June from the publisher And Other Stories. For this screening, Herrera selects Robert Altman’s equally surreal Raymond Chandler adaptation The Long Goodbye. This event is co-presented by Book Culture and copies of Herrera’s novel will be available for purchase.
The Long Goodbye
Robert Altman, USA, 1973, 35mm, 112m
“It’s okay with me”: Robert Altman’s shaggy-dog style and Raymond Chandler’s hard-boiled imagination proved to be a perfect combination in this 1973 classic, in which Elliott Gould arguably surpasses Humphrey Bogart to deliver the coolest, most alluring portrayal of iconic gumshoe Philip Marlowe. As is usual in a Chandler story, Gould’s slightly stoned-seeming shamus gets roped into a knotty plot when he tries to help an old friend (Jim Bouton) whose wife has been murdered; at the same time, Marlowe is hired by Eileen Wade (Nina van Pallandt) to track down her frequently MIA, drunkard husband Roger (Sterling Hayden). But little does Marlowe know that these two threads are deeply connected… The Long Goodbye is everywhere marked by a dreamy, narcotic atmosphere, with Altman and screenwriter Leigh Brackett (who previously adapted Chandler for Howard Hawks’s The Big Sleep) fascinatingly rendering Chandler’s source novel less as a pulpy detective story than as an eminently seventies trance film.
Herrera on The Long Goodbye: “Something that has always interested me in noir is how these narratives are, among other things, studies in male fragility. Heroes pretend to be islands, only to recognize in the end that they are vulnerable, sentimental men, wishing for some moral compass to ease their fears. From the very first scene, Elliot Gould’s Marlowe embraces his tenderness as a source of strength. He is an individual that navigates among crooks and egomaniacs while trying to preserve a core of himself. The Long Goodbye reveals the sorrow produced by violence but does not get trapped in it—underscoring that the joy of art is a rebellion against the curse of horror. The Long Goodbye is, literally, a return to the light.”
About Yuri Herrera: Born in Actopan, Mexico, in 1970, Yuri Herrera studied politics in Mexico, creative writing in El Paso, and got his PhD in literature at Berkeley. His first novel to appear in English, Signs Preceding the End of the World, was published to great critical acclaim in 2015 and included in many best-of-year lists, including The Guardian’s Best Fiction and NBC News’ Ten Great Latino Books, before going on to win the 2016 Best Translated Book Award. He is currently teaching at Tulane University in New Orleans. His latest book, Kingdom Cons, will be published by And Other Stories in June 2017.