Thursday, January 29, 2015

"The Writing Is Better Than Hemingway, Since It Conceals not Softness but Hardness"

"Ex-Detective Hammett."
By Elizabeth Sanderson.
Appeared in The Bookman, January 1932.
Online HERE.
A brief interview with a hard-boiled detective writer at the apex of his career. A few excerpts:
. . . If hardness consists of writing about criminals as though they were human, of looking on detectives with an unbiased eye and setting them down as less than paragons of shrewdness and integrity, of admitting corruption, human frailty and occasional pleasant qualities in both his man-hunters and their quarry, Dashiell Hammett's hardness is the main reason for his success.  . . .
. . . He is, in addition, a master of terse, abrupt prose, and he can tell more in one sentence of it than many an earlier mystery novel writer managed to convey in a chapter.  . . .
. . . A detective is not actually a romantic figure, and few thieves or murderers are ever pure "criminal types." So Dashiell Hammett left the Philo Vances to Mr. Van Dine and wrote of what he had seen as a hard-working man among men of very little culture or nobility.  . . .
. . . With all his experience to draw on, and in spite of the remarkable success that has come to him from his detective stories, Mr. Hammett does not want to go on writing them.  . . .
. . . He considers The Dain Curse a silly story, The Maltese Falcon "too manufactured," and The Glass Key not so bad—that the clews were nicely placed there, although nobody seemed to see them.  . . .
- The GAD Wiki entry for Hammett is HERE.
- The Thrilling Detective website has a Hammett page HERE.

Category: Detective fiction

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