"My joke about The Maltese Falcon is that the best character is Effie"
November 3, 2015 7:54 PM   Subscribe

This sounds like a really interesting curation Weinman's done, I'll have to check it out. It is interesting, these books that fall through the cracks. Defining a genre is just drawing a little chalk circle, often a slapdash affair at the start, and then in a decade or two that boundary somehow turns into a pedestal, or maybe a little glass dome, and all the contemporaries that were on the other side of the line fade away, or rot....Not to say that there's no such thing as hard-boiled crime fiction, but it's all a little arbitrary, plenty of other chalk circles you could trace, at the start.

I can't resist a reply to your title, sub voce to avoid derailment....Hammett is like 900 million times better than Chandler. Chandler is an Edwardian public school boy who walked out of a cyronics machine in 1940s L.A. A knight-errant, and prim beneath the fedora. Hammett's bad girls aren't all that much worse than his heros, they just have no loyalty and no job. Less Macbeth and the Missus and more there but for the grace of god. Plus he was capable of writing Nora Charles.
posted by Diablevert at 8:25 PM on November 3, 2015

I also can't resist the derailment. I mean . . . Effie is a good character. So is a Archer's wife . . . But Brigid O'Shaughnessy's arc is so interesting. Who is she really?? Do we ever find out? Also the last time I read it hit me that O'Shaughnessy is an Irish name, which surely had significance in the 1920's, and that must be why she presents herself as "Wonderly". "Miss Wonderly" itself is a masterpiece.
posted by chrchr at 9:49 PM on November 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'm very excited about this set. I ordered it as a gift for my parents-in-law, both of whom like mysteries and noir. It should be delivered today. I couldn't pull the trigger on it for myself yet.

We are living through a very good period for reprints and rediscoveries. NYRB Classics published The Expendable Man, mentioned in the interview, either last year or this year. Of course these women have been overlooked. "Domestic" anything is always devalued compared to "rare steak, bourbon, and 18 year-old brunettes." It's interesting to me how much I think about these things now that I have a very very domestic life (three kids under 3). It isn't like I was a guy in bars drinking my breakfast before, but when I read books now where the (male) protagonist is just able to do whatever they want, the sexism is striking. In something like The Big Clock (also republished by NYRB, but included, I think, in one of the other Library of America noir anthologies), the sexism is about one of the Georges (the woman, of course) having to be at home. In other books about hard detectives, the protagonist is free from "encumbrance" and able to use whoever they please. No one ever has to stay home and care for the kids in those men's books.

This is one of the things I quite liked about Going Native by Stephen Wright. Before he starts all his killing, the killer has to walk out on his family. In many ways it ends up being the most shocking moment in the book.

Thanks for the interview!
posted by OmieWise at 6:31 AM on November 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

The opening is just two women sitting at a table, telling each other to pass the salt, one passes the salt and the other is like, Maybe this is the day when I finally kill her.
I gotta read this!
posted by Monochrome at 9:32 AM on November 4, 2015

« Older Gif Dance Party   |   Taiwan-China leaders to meet for first time since... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments