Thursday, October 20, 2016

Shadow Man: Dashiell Hammett, his granddaughter, and me

"Shadow Man" by Peter Rozovsky
for Detectives Beyond Borders
Shadow Man is the title both of Richard Layman's 1981 biography of Dashiell Hammett and of the self-portrait at left, which I shot last night.

Today I had lunch with Hammett's granddaughter and editor Julie M. Rivett, who is visiting my part of the world to talk to high school students and other groups about Hammett and The Maltese Falcon.

Richard Layman, Julie M.
Rivett. Photo by your humble
blogkeeper.
Rivett, who joined Layman in a discussion I moderated at Bouchercon 2015,  talked Hammett, and we discussed one of last year's best non-fiction crime books, Nathan Ward's The Lost Detective: Becoming Dashiell Hammett.  I was also tickled to learn that Rivett is a big fan of James Lee Burke, whom I've begun to read as part of my recent but abiding love affair with New Orleans. We talked at some length about Burke and his writing, which Rivett knows a lot better than I do. The woman has good taste in crime writers, whether she is their lineal descendant or not.

© Peter Rozovsky 2016

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9 Comments:

Blogger J. Kingston Pierce said...

What a lucky guy you are, Peter. During my single face-to-face conversation with Ms. Rivett, I found her to be personable, immensely entertaining, and knowledgeable. No wonder you had a good time at lunch.

Cheers,
Jeff

October 21, 2016  
Blogger Art Taylor said...

Echoing Jeff here—and love that photo!
Art

October 21, 2016  
Blogger Dana King said...

That event you hosted in Raleigh was a Bouchercon highlight not just for that year, but all seven I've been to. Fascinating. I read THE LOST DETECTIVE shortly thereafter and was genuinely sorry when it ended. Fascinating book.

October 21, 2016  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Jeff: You're right on all counts. I've enjoyed all of my meetings with Julie. Probably the most memorable was sitting with her and Richard Layman sipping gin and tonics and talking about Hammett the day before our Hammett panel at Bouchercon in Raleigh. But I liked our first meeting, when she drove up from her home to meet me at Musso & Frank in L.A. because I got to begin the resulting blog post thus: "It was a wandering granddaughter job."

October 21, 2016  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Dana: Many thanks. I was stunned by The Lost Detective. Imagine: a book about a writer that was actually about writing. Apparently a lot of people insisted on calling the book a biography, which it was not. Rather, it was a literary essay that used a few biographical facts as a basis for exploring Hammett's roots as a writer. Again, it was refreshing to read a book about a writer that traced his importance to his writing, and not to political, biographical, or, God forbid, psychological causes. The book could serve as a model for all writing about writers.

October 21, 2016  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Oh, and thanks for the kind words about our panel. Possibly the only thing more enjoyable than the panel itself was talking with Julie ad Rick the day before.

October 21, 2016  
Blogger Dana King said...

Peter, you're spot on with your description of THE LOST DETECTIVE. All "author bios" should be written like that one. I learned a great deal about his writing, something of the man, and enormous amounts about how the writing came to be. which is what I really care about when I read about an author's life.

I read THE WORLD OF RAYMOND CHANDLER about a year before THE LOST DETECTIVE. Combining my thoughts on the two goes a log way toward how Hammett has replaced Chandler in my Pantheon of writers. They're both in there, but Hammett now has the better seat. He also seems like the person one would much rather have a conversation with.

October 21, 2016  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks, Art, father of Dash.

October 21, 2016  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Dana: I had not heard of THE WORLD OF RAYMOND CHANDLER, but it certainly seems worth a look. Next to Ward's books, every book about an author would have to seem cheap and exploitative. And Hammett--man, he was a product of time and of his own experiences and all, but compared to the crime writers who surrounded and even followed him, he is of a different order. He's a bit like Giotto in Italian painting, but even in that case, after about 200 years, other Italian painters figured out how to do certain things that Giotto had bot done. I am not sure Hammett has been surpassed even to this day.

October 21, 2016  

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