Wednesday, November 06, 2013

What to read while you're waiting for the new Dashiell Hammett book

This is a good time to be reading Dashiell Hammett, not that there is ever a bad time to read the greatest crime writer ever.

Last night I reread "$106,000 Blood Money" and the first chapters of Red Harvest and The Maltese Falcon. My favorite bit from the day's reading was this exchange, from "$106,000 Blood Money," between the Continental Op and Dick Foley about the fate of a man the latter was tailing:
"At three o'clock in the morning my bedside phone took my ear out of the pillows. The voice that came over the wire was the Canadian op's.  
"`Exit Arlie,' he said." 
This week's big Hammett news is the release of The Hunter and Other Stories. While waiting for your copy, why not satisfy your Hammett jones with a book from Vince Emery Productions? Or browse Mike Humbert's Dashiell Hammett Website? Or the two Hammett volumes from the Library of America? (One contains Hammett's five novels, the other short stories and some highly entertaining, illuminating nonfiction pieces.) Or pick up The Glass Key or "Arson Plus" or "The Scorched Face" or...

© Peter Rozovsky 2013

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8 Comments:

Blogger Dana King said...

Timely. THE GLASS KEY has worked its way almost to the top of the TBR pile. It's one of the things I like about being so OCD with my reading: the sense of anticipation when I see books that stand out rising through the ranks,

November 07, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Will this be your first time reading The Glass Key? I read it for the first time only within the past couple of years, and I was shocked by how fresh and harsh it was for a crime novel that had been written eighty years before.

I also watched Miller's Crossing last night and, while the Coen brothers are the Coen brothers, it enjoyed all the nods to TGK and Red Harvest.

November 07, 2013  
Blogger seana graham said...

You know, I still haven't gotten around to reading Hammett, which is why I hesitate to comment here. I have seen a fair number of the movies made from his books, though.

November 08, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Ay, caramba! You could do worse that the Library of America volume "Crime Stories and Other Writings." For the novels, critical consensus rates Red Harvest, The Glass Key, and The Maltese Falcon above the rest, The Thin Man a bit below that, and The Dain Curse trailing the pack. I see no reason to disagree.

Noe, start reading.

November 08, 2013  
Blogger nonie said...

My all time favorite author! He led me to Ross Macdonald, another all time favorite.

November 08, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Hammett and Chandler are gateway drugs, and discussions of American crime writers that begin with those two generally continue with Ross Macdonald. On the other hand, I have never been as divided in my feelings about a crime novel as I was about Madonald’s The Galton Case. On the one hand, it’s probably the most beautifully plotted book I have ever read. On the other, oh, that wince-making amateur psychology.

November 08, 2013  
Blogger nonie said...

I agree about the wincing those passages cause. And not only in that particular book. Those bits date the books for me. John D. Macdonald does a bit of that as well. I pretend they aren't there.

November 09, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

A friend who reveres Ross Macdonald slmost as much as she does Chandler and Hammett also regards Freud as one of the great blights on humanity. That's one more sign that Macdonald was good.

November 09, 2013  

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