Re: RARA-AVIS: wet feet...

From: Mark Sullivan (
Date: 27 Apr 2001

Miker expressed some reservations after reading his first Hammett, Red Harvest.

In Pulp Fiction (in one of the cut scenes tacked onto the end of the videotape) the Uma Thurman character gives a liitle speech to Travolta's Vinnie about there being "Elvis people" and "Beatles people"; it is possible to like them both, but ultimately one must choose. She tags Vinnie as an Elvis person, then goes on to ask him a few more either/or questions to find out who he really is (Brady Bunch vs. Partridge Family, etc).

Well, I think in the world of hardboiled fandom, there are Hammett people and there are Chandler people. From what you have written, I'll bet you're one of the latter. You don't get nearly as deep into Hammett's characters as you do into Chandler's Marlowe. Hammett's heroes are often little more than their jobs (is it still Work-themed month?). The Op is literally defined by his job, is never even given a name. There is a bit more depth to Spade, though it's mostly hinted at, but he, too, is defined by his professionalism -- what a man must do for his business partner, even if he doesn't like him. So it's business, not personal.

We get much deeper into Marlowe's head. We are mmersed in his values and though he all too often has nothing but his job, he does occasionally try to look outside it. For instance, he plays chess. Of course, there's no real connection there since he plays against famous games in books.


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