A few days ago, I finished reading Dashiell Hammett's Red Harvest. Such a sweet book.
"It's not me," I said, wondering why I was saying it but somehow enjoying it, "It's you. Every time I mention killing, you jump on me. You're a woman. You think if nothing's said about it, maybe none of the God only knows how many people in town who might want to will kill you. That's silly. Nothing we say or don't say is going to make Whisper, for instance--"
I love that long twisty sentence in the middle surrounded by the plain and simple ones. Just a component of the funny poetry in Hammett's language that slows you down enough to show you the chasm before shoving you down in it.
I've had the complete novels of Dashiell Hammett in a single volume for a couple years now, but am only now getting a chance to read one of them. Shows you something of my reading pile.
I remembered reading in William Gibson's blog some time ago about how some people were calling Raymond Chandler a huge influence on Gibson. "I’ve never read much Chandler either," said Gibson "another frequently supposed influence. The real deal, in that particular rainslick modality, for me, is Dashiell Hammett. Invented the vehicle, as far as I know, though Chandler brought a classier chassis to it."
And it was interesting to me how very much more like Gibson Hammett seemed than Chandler. I've only read two Chandler novels, The Big Sleep and Farewell My Lovely, but I found Chandler's style, while lovely, could occasionally overwhelm the story. I was very happy to start reading a Chandler novel but, on both occasions, when I'd finished, I didn't feel like reading another Chandler for a long time. There was something less innocent about Red Harvest, something that gnawed a bit more on ideas of human nature.
While I'm on the subject of noir, I should mention that I watched the 1947 Postman Always Rings Twice last night. Loved Lana Turner and John Garfield. Hated the obvious alterations made to please the censors. Sometimes Frank and Cora were two people caught in a plausible, hellish situation of decisions, other times they were reduced to being simplistic hooligans.
You know, I'm beginning to realise how much I always enjoy not having a car. Just knowing that I can't drive anywhere makes me feel more productive.