Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Happy Birthday, Dashiell Hammett
May 27th marks the 121st birthday of author Dashiell Hammett, a writer who's impact on the modern culture is nigh-incalculable.
I'm actually currently re-reading Red Harvest for the first time in fifteen years and will make my way back through The Maltese Falcon, The Dain Curse and a few more. And you really can't beat the short fiction of the Continental Op short stories.
And, of course, he was responsible for The Thin Man novel and assisted with the production of the movie.
Hammett had been a Pinkerton Detective, a career not so readily available in this era, but it set the stage for both the material of his fiction as well as the approach his detectives took. he served in both World Wars, drank too much, was a terrible husband and absentee father and a left-winger from jump. And he had a 30 year romance with Lillian Hellman. Like you do.
I'll be honest, I love this guy's work. His characters feel real and lived in, perhaps world warn and weary, but believably so, and his plots are just haphazard enough as the detectives sort through the mess they've stumbled into to feel believable when one is surrounded by liars with agendas. And he's got a snappy prose style.
Here's to Mr. Hammett on his birthday. Here's to one of the father's of American modern fiction in all its forms.