RARA-AVIS: Robert Parker reviews the new Hammett collection

ejm duggan (ejmd@cwcom.net)
Sun, 05 Sep 1999 10:14:50 +0000

On Sat, 4 Sep 1999, William Denton <buff@pobox.com> wrote:


> one place it can be found is in Toronto's Globe and Mail.

Good piece --- an interesting article.

A couple of things worthy of note:

RP suggests that a fault in Hammett's short fiction is that characters are little more than plot devices ... rather than see this as a 'fault', I think it's a pretty good analytical definition of character!

RP finds another fault in the way Hammett wraps up his short fiction--with the extended confession, or the detective's explanation: fair comment. RP suggests this occurs because Hammett writes short fiction at novel pace -- and so runs out of space.

A final fault RP finds in Hammett is the 'pointlessness' of some aspects
-- like aimless detection which leads nowhere, and details such as names or physical attributes not being tied into the plot. A valid enough point -- *but* it is only in a certain sort of narrative fiction that one finds a neatly ordered chain of cause-and-effect. Hammett, I think, was trying to write something different.


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