Sunday, September 16, 2007

A fine lot of lollipops

NOW FINISHED: The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

Fun fun fun. I finished it a few days ago but being back in school and going to Boston and running a 5K have all taken time away from posting. I am excited to watch the movie. I just love to read the book and then watch the movies. That is a fun way to approach life.

Of course I love the ending. I love Sam Spade and I knew we could count on him. As for Ms Thang O'Shaughnessy, whom I just knew was not going to turn out to be as good as Effie Perine had said, I thought it was great when Sam basically said "peace out, lady" even though he would have loved to keep getting cozy with her and when he said "you haven't played square with me for half an hour at a stretch since I've known you." You go, Sam. Send her off to the gallows. Anyway, it's not as if there's any shortage of ladies in Sam's life, it would seem. And then he gives her crap for playing all the men, which is funny.

Also funny is how Joel Cairo is gay. Who knew? Were we supposed to figure that out at the begining because he spent his time going to the theater? Perhaps something in the clothes he wore. But it's fun how Dashiell Hammett has to describe his actions and suggest things between the lines to tell us he's gay without telling us he's gay. It reminded me of how Willa Cather in One of Ours told us that Enid refused to have sex with Claude on their wedding night or even thereafter without ever actually saying that. Deftly handled. I love it. Go, writers of the 1920s!

But in the end, does it get any better than this:

"Jesus God! is this the first thing you guys ever stole? You're a fine lot of lollipops!" -p. 188

1 comment:

Paul said...

I think it was Hammett that Raymond Chandler was referring to when he said "he took murder out of the vicar's rose garden and gave it back to the people who are really good at it." The hard-boiled detective story is quite a treat when read in the original, after all the numberless pop-culture parodies.

My own preference is for Chandler. Very spare, yet outrageous prose. One of my favorite lines, quintessential Chandler, is his description of an incidental character in "The Lady In The Lake", a secretary who "looked playful and eager, but not quite sure of herself, like a new kitten in a house where they don't care much about kittens."

Marvelous stuff...