Re: RARA-AVIS: Hammett stories

From: William Denton (
Date: 17 Oct 2002

On 16 October 2002, Brian Thornton wrote:

: I have to agree, Bill. Of all of Hammett's creations, the Op is my (and I
: believe his) favorite. "The Girl With The Silver Eyes", "Fly Paper", "The
: House on Turk Street" are all fabulous, as is my favorite Hammett short
: story, "The Scorched Face."

I just got to that in the collection, and then "Dead Yellow Women." This is the stuff! "The Scorched Face" was one of my favourites, but it had been a while since a I read it. It can be nice to work through some middling entries in a fair Gold Medal series, but man, this is the real thing, not just for hardboiled writing but for all of twentieth century American writing. Why doesn't Hammett get the "he's so good he's actually literature--no, really!" essays?

Here's a bit I liked from "Dead Yellow Women" (the Chinatown stuff from which must have made a lot of the background for the movie HAMMETT):

| He got out of the taxicab and we crossed to a couple of
| comfortable-looking boulders on the other side.
| "Where is Lil-Miss Shan?" he asked.
| "Ask the Whistler," I suggested.
| The blond kid wasn't so good. It took him a long time to get
| his gun out. I let him go through with it.


William Denton : Toronto, Canada : : Caveat lector.

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