RARA-AVIS: Re: Another Heresy -- The Black Mask and other pulp fiction

From: George Tuttle ( noirfiction@whoever.com)
Date: 07 May 2005

I will not disagree that Hammett is much better than Daly, but Daly was such presence in early hardboiled fiction it would have hard for Hammett not to be aware of him (and I mean `really' aware). And yes, yes, there is plenty of violence in the early stories, but Hammett does seem to kick it up a notch in the Red Harvest and, this is probably just my take, react to it on a more personal level. All that said, I will not try to compete with your knowledge of both writers. It has been a good 15 years since I've read either and I have a bad habit of never re-read stuff so I will probably not improve on my insight.

Thanks, again, for the comments, Jim. I am going to hit the road, since today is Free Comic Book Day, which is actually a holiday in my book.

--- In rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com, JIM DOHERTY <jimdohertyjr@y...> wrote:
> George,
> Re your comment below:
> > You missed my point. I didn't say Hammett was
> > imitating Daly or trying
> > to be Daly, but I did feel he was reacting to Daly.
> > When I read Red
> > Harvest it was my gut reaction that Hammett was try
> > to show the Black
> > Mask audience how a Race Williams,
> > fight-fire-with-fire style plot
> > should be handled or how it would have been handled
> > with the Continental Op at the helm.
> But that kidn of fast-action, whiz-bang,
> fight-fire-with-fire plot was a feature of the Op
> series almost from the very beginning. "Corkscrew,"
> sort of a short story dry run for RED HARVEST,
> predates HARVEST by some three years, for example.
> "The Gutting of Couffignal," at one level, is nothing
> but one long sustained shoot-out closing with a dress
> rehearsal for FALCON's renunciation scene.
> "One Hour," as its title suggests, is a story of the
> Op getting involved in a fast-moving criminal plot
> that he has to resolve in 60 minutes, and the action
> never flags.
> Hammett didn't include fast-action simply to compete
> with Daly. I'm not sure he was even that aware of
> Daly. He was writing the kind of stories he wanted to
> write and that he felt particularly qualified to
> write. If there was an outside influence moving
> Hammett to include action scenes (and, occasionally,
> it could get excessive in a Daly-like way; see BLOOD
> MONEY), it was, as you also suggested, the editorial
> hand, first of Phil Cody then of Cap Shaw.
> Finally, Hammett was so much better at the action
> scenes than Daly, that if anyone influenced ANYONE, it
> was Hammett influencing Daly.
> Indeed, Daly's Williams seems to continually be trying
> to one-up the Op in derring-do. If the Op shoots the
> gun out of the bad guy's hand and shrugs it off as not
> that much of a trick for anyone who's a fairly good
> shot, Williams will outdraw a man who's already got
> the drop on him and shoot him five times before the
> bad guy gets a shot off, or fires simultaneously from
> his matched set of .44's, both slugs making a single
> hole in the bad guy's head.
> And that points up why Hammett was so much better at
> that stuff than Daly. Hammett wrote scenes you could
> believe, and he wrote them with the air of someone
> who'd been there, done that, and bought the t-shirt.
> The improbable feats of Daly's heroes were the work of
> someone overcompensating.
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