Saturday, February 16, 2008

More Hammett

I read Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett today. Great story, by the way. Gotta love a detective novel with a chapter titled The Seventeenth Murder, and it's only part way through the book.

What is it that the puppeteer says in Tom Stoppard's play Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead?

Puppeteer: "It's a regular bloodbath. Seven dead." (speaking of the play Hamlet. I'm paraphrasing here from Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead because I can't find the exact quote)

Rosencrantz: (counts on his fingers) "No. Only five."

Cut to scene of Rosencrantz & Guildenstern hanging from the gallows.

Anyway, about Hammett's writing, I was curious to see if all his stories were as heavy on dialog and short on setting as The Thin Man. So I read his earlier novel Red Harvest. It's much more like your typical novel, which makes me wonder a couple things.1) Did he develop into a sparser writing style later on OR 2) Did he know that The Thin Man was destined to be a movie, and saved himself the work of writing a screenplay from the novel by writing the novel more like a screenplay? (Thank goodness it isn't written in present tense like a screenplay though.) He apparently worked in Hollywood for several years, so it's possible.

Briefly glancing through the Glass Key, it also seems heavy on dialog. If I have time this weekend, I'll dip into the Maltese Falcon.

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