Trouble is My Business: The Raymond Chandler Library
We couldn’t wait to get a look at Trouble is My Business: The Raymond Chandler Library (Bryron Preiss Multimedia). Well, we’ve seen it and, sorry to say, it doesn’t do justice to the man or his work. The interface, designed as a PI’s office from ’40s films, is a good beginning. We also liked the design of the Timeline, but what about the content? Clicking on a higlighted event here produces a photo or text (which we could barely read in the first three screens). Since this was in fact the biographical section, it was shockingly light. One picture, from WWI, was all we found of the author. Under 1932 you see the heading “Fired from Oil Business for Drinking” with no further explanation. Again, no elucidation on the startling heading for 1955: “Attempted Suicide, Trip to England.” There is a date for his wedding and for the death of his wife but virtually nothing about their marriage. A Letters section gives no explanation of who’s who. We happen to know who Alfred Knopf was, but what if you don’t? References to Dashiell Hammett and Lillian Hellman beg for hypertext, but the program offers nothing more. The text of eight books is included, with photos, illustrations, and film clips scattered throughout. There are no captions so it’s impossible to know where they came from unless you are a Chandler scholar. Narration begins each chapter but stops as you scroll down. Since you don’t know who’s reading and since so many of the lines are memorable from the films, this is actually a blessing. We can’t imagine that anyone would want to read Chandler on a computer screen unless there are added dividends that enhance the experience and illuminate the work. That does not happen here. The Raymond Chandler Library is a big yawn.
– March 1995