The Big Sleep was a splendid foundational example of its genre. Sometimes when I read books that defined a genre long ago, I have to keep reminding myself that the book isn't cliche, it invented the cliche. In the case of The Big Sleep I never once felt like anything was cliche- a foundation for the conventions of its genre, sure. It had all the conventions I was expecting. But the character of Marlowe and all the other characters in the book kept everything fresh and exciting. And the gritty realism mixed with Marlowe's sarcastic personal philosophy was just too cool and fun.