Re: RARA-AVIS: Red Harvest

Date: 06 Nov 2002


Re your comments below:

> I think that "Red Harvest," except for the
> opening, is pretty ugly stuff in both a plot and
> style. (OK it was made from a bunch of novellas.
> Hammett should have hooked them together better.)

Actually, I think Hammett concealed the seams very well, particularly compared with the other two OP novels, BLOOD MONEY and THE DAIN CURSE. Perhaps not quite as well-concealed as THE GLASS KEY, but I found few seams showing. And when I did find them it was because I was looking for them.
> The style is more Hemingway parody than good
> Hammett. It's choppy and not conversational.

Again, I disagree. Moreover, Hammett's style for the Op series, which began in 1922, developed separately from Hemingway's. If anything, I think a case could be made that it was Hemingway who was influenced by Hammett rather than the reverse. I was riveted by the style the first time I read it and have been again with every re-reading.

> "The Malese Falcon" is the
> best private-eye novel ever.)

No argument there, but RED HARVEST is easily his second-best work, and, if not THE greatest like FALCON, ONE of the greatest private eye novels ever.

Moreover, a case could be made that it was at least as influential, perhaps more influential than FALCON. Certainly, the first person narration of HARVEST is far more common than the rigorously objective third-person mode of FALCON. And the "town-tamer" story is one of the most common plots, certainly as common as the "fabled quest object" plot or the
"hero's lover is the killer" plot that are both generally attributed to FALCON, in private eye fiction.


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