RARA-AVIS: Hem and Hammett

From: Moorich2@aol.com
Date: 18 Mar 2002

Okay, I also confess to liking ISLANDS IN THE STREAM perhaps beyond its merit. I was a huge Hemingway fan when it came out and I was on orders for Vietnam and that was one of my two treats to myself while waiting to ship out. I really liked the first two sections. And, I also very much liked the opening of TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT. As for A MOVABLE FEAST, great read but any Hemingway version of a past event has to be taken with lots of salt. The guy was deep into payback. The more I learn about him the more awful he seems as a person but jerk and asshole that he was, the man produced some great stuff.
  And, hey, I guess that's all that matters as it's too late to add him to my Christmas card list or ask him to be my valentine.

As for Hammett, most of those Mercury collections were reprinted as Dell Mapbacks, although not the last one. There was also a followup to THE BIG KNOCKOVER called THE CONTINENTAL OP which had a big sale. I have not compared the contents of those two (which I have) with NIGHTMARE TOWN, which I have yet to buy. There was also a Dell Mapback by the same name so I have read the title story and either in Mercury or Mapback have the others in the series.

For what it's worth, I have always enjoyed the Op stories more than Hammett's novels. Some I have given several readings. I also prefer Hammett's fiction to Chandler's although I must reread Chandler again soon as too much time has passed and my opinions do change through the decades. I specify fiction for I think Chandler's essays and letters are brilliant and contain some of the most interesting writing on writing I have ever read.

Richard Moore

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