RARA-AVIS: The Big Letdown (was Hammett's "Woman In The Dark")

From: Al Guthrie ( allanguthrie@ukonline.co.uk)
Date: 18 Oct 2002

----- Original Message ----- From: "Brian Thornton" < tieresias@worldnet.att.net>

> While we're on the subject of Hammett's work, I just finished "Woman In
> Dark", which was serialized in two installments in Liberty magazine in
> 1933. It is interesting to note that the piece of fiction he published
> after this was "The Thin Man", and I think I can see why. This is a
> novelette (75 pages) that really doesn't seem to know what to do with
> itself. There is good characterization and a promising start, but the
> unconvincing ending seems slapped together, and uneven. Had he been in
> better form/health, Hammett could have fleshed this story out
> and he might have had something here. As it is, it remains a flawed
> masterpiece with too-swift transitions in the last ten or so pages.
> It almost seems as if he ran out of gas and was just in a hurry to finish
> and sell it. Anyone else read this one? Thoughts?

Some time ago when I read it, but I found it disappointing. Not that hardboiled, from what I recall, and "masterpiece" certainly never crossed my mind - flawed or otherwise. For me, bad endings are unforgiveable. At least with bad openings you don't have to continue, but when you've invested so much time and the ending sucks, you lose faith in the author. Or at least I do. I was on a Hammett binge at the time. "Woman In The Dark" stopped it dead in its tracks.


# To unsubscribe from the regular list, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to
# majordomo@icomm.ca.  This will not work for the digest version.
# The web pages for the list are at http://www.miskatonic.org/rara-avis/ .

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 18 Oct 2002 EDT