Author Topic: Dashiell Hammett  (Read 642 times)

Dashiell Hammett
« on: November 10, 2018, 02:11:36 PM »
I have read Red Harvest and The Maltese Falcon and really liked them, is his other stuff worth checking out as well? Also, what do you think of him, what are your faves, like/dislike, overrated/underrated, let's get into it

Re: Dashiell Hammett
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2018, 03:33:16 PM »
well fuck you all then

Re: Dashiell Hammett
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2018, 03:58:57 PM »
I would definitely recommend The Thin Man and a collection of his Continental Op short stories if you enjoyed them. I still haven't got around to The Maltese Falcon or The Dain Curse, but given the standard of his other novels, I'm sure at the very least they're worth a read.

Re: Dashiell Hammett
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2018, 04:01:53 PM »
Sorry, got mixed up and thought you'd mentioned The Glass Key. I can recommend that unreservedly.

Re: Dashiell Hammett
« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2018, 11:23:28 PM »
Thank you very much for the recommendations :)

Re: Dashiell Hammett
« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2018, 02:56:00 PM »
Yeah read the lot. The Dain Curse is silly but an enjoyable read.

If you haven't already read Chandler do, but whether you have or not read Ross McDonald. He gets forgotten but in my view he's better than his predecessors.

Re: Dashiell Hammett
« Reply #6 on: November 13, 2018, 03:01:16 PM »
Have read Chandler (The Big Sleep and Farewell My Lovely, specifically), is there a particular Ross Macdonald book that would be good to start with? I'm guessing The Moving Target is the one

Re: Dashiell Hammett
« Reply #7 on: November 13, 2018, 03:16:51 PM »
The Moving Target is more of a hard-boiled Chandler style book but after that they become much more like character studies. He was criticised for the fact that all the books have basically the same plot, which isn't entirely true but even if it was I wouldn't care, they're so enjoyable to read.

I remember The Zebra-Striped Hearse being a favourite.

Re: Dashiell Hammett
« Reply #8 on: November 13, 2018, 04:10:56 PM »
I mean when you're reading genre novels you kind of expect similar plots

Funcrusher

  • Been shot up more times than Tom Mix
Re: Dashiell Hammett
« Reply #9 on: November 13, 2018, 06:29:05 PM »
Have read Chandler (The Big Sleep and Farewell My Lovely, specifically), is there a particular Ross Macdonald book that would be good to start with? I'm guessing The Moving Target is the one

If you've not read Chandler's 'The Long Goodbye' that's worth a read, possibly the best Marlowe book. Ross Macdonald is really good, although an interesting compare and contrast with Hammett - some have argued that Macdonald continues a kind of gentrification of the genre started by Chandler, and that Hammett's more hard boiled, sparer style is the truer original (James Elroy bangs on about this). I prefer the more literary Chandler style, although Hammett's great too.

Re: Dashiell Hammett
« Reply #10 on: November 14, 2018, 09:57:42 PM »
Will definitely check out The Long Goodbye then, I did absolutely love the other Chandler books I read

Re: Dashiell Hammett
« Reply #11 on: November 14, 2018, 10:17:03 PM »
If you've not read Chandler's 'The Long Goodbye' that's worth a read, possibly the best Marlowe book. Ross Macdonald is really good, although an interesting compare and contrast with Hammett - some have argued that Macdonald continues a kind of gentrification of the genre started by Chandler, and that Hammett's more hard boiled, sparer style is the truer original (James Elroy bangs on about this). I prefer the more literary Chandler style, although Hammett's great too.

I agree with all of this. My advice - read 'em all. Talking of Ellroy - read The Big Nowhere if you haven't.

Re: Dashiell Hammett
« Reply #12 on: November 14, 2018, 10:31:38 PM »
Funny thing is that I have all the Chandler books, I got the Penguin omnibus editions which were 'The Big Sleep/Farewell My Lovely/The Long Goodbye' and 'The High Window/The Lady in the Lake/The Little Sister'. I also picked up 'Playback' a few years ago from an old bookshop. I may have to finally plunge into them all, and maybe make a Raymond Chandler thread somewhere down the line

I've not read Ellroy, but I have 'The Black Dahlia'

Re: Dashiell Hammett
« Reply #13 on: November 15, 2018, 10:23:45 AM »
I think Playback is really underrated, the most kind of postmodern of the Marlowe books.

Re: Dashiell Hammett
« Reply #14 on: November 15, 2018, 01:43:34 PM »
Huge fan of Hammett, but I place Chandler very much in the same camp as Agatha Christie (something that he would have been delighted with) – enjoy adaptations but not the source material.

…I've not read Ellroy, but I have 'The Black Dahlia'

That’s the Ellroy one that I least enjoyed – so much so that I gave up part-way through. At the time, I thought it felt like a very transitional type of work, but fairly recently, read his first two novels and had to revise that opinion drastically.

One book that I’ve mentioned before is Jack Webb’s The Badge, which Ellroy got as a child and when penning an introduction for a reprint, said about the massive influence it was on his writing… which was rather stating the obvious. Webb’s writing is in a clipped style, very similar to his characters’ narration/speech in radio shows like Dragnet (and the TV version), Pete Kelly’s Blues and Pat Novak for Hire.

One reason I found The Badge so interesting is the feeling I got about how it did impact on Ellroy’s future writing. Another is about the information on the history of LAPD (the book is chiefly about that and policing under Chief Parker, rather than true crime tales as the blurb really suggested) – which I feel puts into context, the standard of policing that is useful when thinking about 20th Century detective fiction.

Incidentally, although Webb had to tread carefully in The Badge as he needed LAPD’s cooperation for Dragnet, I found it a more interesting work (and certainly more informative about policing) than John Buntin’s LA Noir. The latter wasn’t a bad read but the set-up premise (Mickey Cohen and Parker ‘battling for a city’s soul’) didn’t work.

Re: Dashiell Hammett
« Reply #15 on: November 16, 2018, 08:15:43 PM »
Ah, fun thread:

Definitely read The Thin Man - it's one of my favourite Christmas books, and the old movie's a lot of boozy fun too.

Also a huge Chandler/Ellroy fan. Ross MacDonald is my lights out favourite, though. At first you kind of think he's a bit boring between Hammett and Chandler, not as tough as the latter nor as witty as the former, but what reveals itself over several books is that he's a much deeper writer, both of character and psychology.

I think there's no better way in than to read the series in order (I'm currently on the 18th! The very last in the series!), but there's an early turning point with I think his 4th or 5th book The Way Some People Die (available in a coolly pulp and fun edition from Black Lizard press, avoid the Penguin modern classic reissues as they miss all the fun).

But the consensus is that his masterpiece is The Galton Case. I love that book, but it didn't hit me as seismically as it did some, probably because I read the books in order, close together, watching him improve with each one on his theme (always family tragedy through the eyes of a cipher private detective). I'd also pick out The Chill and The Wycherley Woman as absolute high points.

Only the first two or three are really pulp, and even then, it's clear he's a very fine, F Scott Fitzgerald-influenced writer etc.

One other book I always recommend to noir readers is The Last Good Kiss by James Crumley. Essentially Chandler crossed with Hunter S Thompson. A speed-freak, road trip rewrite of The Long Goodbye, which I actually helped get back into print in the UK after many years out of it.

Ellroy's another thing again. I'd try and read some of this stuff that really influenced him first, but I like doing things in order...