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Past Group Reads > The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett

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message 1: by Jamie (new)

Jamie  (jaymers8413) | 738 comments Mod
This is for the discussion of The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett.


message 2: by Feliks (last edited Nov 06, 2014 06:31PM) (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 44 comments It's one of the very few Hammett works I have no yen for. I'm content with the movie series in this case.

The writing is just not quintessential Hammett. Strange episode where he was part of high society, gives us this book--but its so unlike the rest of his career. I want Hammett to always write about the seamy, violent side of American life--the side no one else could do better than he--the underbelly.


message 3: by Feliks (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 44 comments Can't ask for a better pairing than Powell and Loy.


message 4: by Jamie (new)

Jamie  (jaymers8413) | 738 comments Mod
While I enjoyed this book it's not as good as The Big Sleep (which was our last side read). I'm glad this is Feliks least favorite Hammett book because I have a collection of his works which I am looking forward to continue reading. I do love the movies! I've seen all 7 (I think that's how many there are). I couldn't remember who the murderer was but I sure would have been suspicious of a bunch of typed letters! I'm glad we had a short book for the holiday months. Now on to the side read East Lynne!


message 5: by Diane (new)

Diane Iasa wrote: "I had forgotten how much they drink in Hammett's books, I feel a bit hungover just reading it."

How doosh thesh people shtan uphright?
I've ordered the first couple of movies after watching Utube "Thin Man" witty lines.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PG3NZ...


message 6: by Feliks (last edited Nov 09, 2014 11:58AM) (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 44 comments I'm a passionate fan of Hammett but I'm 'discriminating'. He has written some duds. No way to account for it. 'Thin Man' isn't a dud, its just not his traditional style.

Here's my review of 'Red Harvest' though--where I feel he astounds and triumphs.

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 7: by Jamie (new)

Jamie  (jaymers8413) | 738 comments Mod
Diane wrote: "Iasa wrote: "I had forgotten how much they drink in Hammett's books, I feel a bit hungover just reading it."

How doosh thesh people shtan uphright?
I've ordered the first couple of movies after w..."


TCM has a four movie set you can get on amazon.


message 8: by Jamie (new)

Jamie  (jaymers8413) | 738 comments Mod
Feliks wrote: "I'm a passionate fan of Hammett but I'm 'discriminating'. He has written some duds. No way to explain it.

Here's my review of 'Red Harvest' though--where I feel he astounds and triumphs.

https:/..."


This sure makes me want to read Red Harvest. I'm glad I have it.


message 9: by Feliks (last edited Nov 09, 2014 12:01PM) (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 44 comments Bravo. I'd be keen to hear your reactions afterwards.


message 10: by Ann (new)

Ann Iasa wrote: ...but I don't remember his prose being so terse."

I'm finding the same thing. Almost like a script.


message 11: by Feliks (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 44 comments I wish I could experience reading Hammett for the first time...sigh


message 12: by Silver (new)

Silver Iasa wrote: "I had forgotten how much they drink in Hammett's books, I feel a bit hungover just reading it."

Haha I know, a drink seems to be required before preforming pretty much any action.

I thought it was amusing and ironic, when they cops captured Morelli and Nora offered him a drink but the cops told her that it was illegal for criminals to drink, as I was thinking it is also illegal for on duty police officers to drink. At least it is now, maybe back than there wasn't a law about that.

I was also confused about why Morelli blamed Nick for the cops being there. They where together in the same room the whole time, so how could have Nick contracted the police?


message 13: by Silver (new)

Silver Feliks wrote: "It's one of the very few Hammett works I have no yen for. I'm content with the movie series in this case.

The writing is just not quintessential Hammett. Strange episode where he was part of high..."


In some ways this book reminds me of Poodle Springs by Raymond Chandler, perhaps Chandler was influenced by Hammett but they have a similar set up, both about gritty/rugged detectives who end up married to wealthy women, and seeing the way in which their past and present lifestyles collide.

I am a great lover of Film Noir but this is only my second book by Hammett though after reading The Maltese Falcon I started collecting his words when I would come across them.

While this book is not as good as the Maltese Falcon was I am enjoying it thus far. And I like the fact that it reads quickly particularly sense I got a late start on it. It is fast paced, and easy but entertaining reading and it does keep my interest peeked.

One of the things which I noticed which bug me the most is there does seem to be some redundancy, every now and then I will have a moment where I think "wait I thought I already read this part?"


message 14: by Feliks (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 44 comments Well just remember, not every detective story is a noir!

:D


message 15: by Silver (new)

Silver Feliks wrote: "Well just remember, not every detective story is a noir!

:D"


But Dashiell Hammett is a writer of Noir. Noir is just about the only kind of detective fiction that I enjoy.


message 16: by Feliks (last edited Nov 18, 2014 09:24PM) (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 44 comments Well he's more accurately a crime writer, not noir at all. He was a pulp author. Noir wasn't yet born when he was writing; noir emerged in the late 1940s. The term comes from cinema--as I think you know. Just remindin ya...


message 17: by Silver (new)

Silver Feliks wrote: "Well he's more accurately a crime writer, not noir at all. He was a pulp author. Noir wasn't yet born when he was writing; noir emerged in the late 1940s. The term comes from cinema--as I think you..."

But his works (at least from what I have read) embody many of the same elements which would came to define Film Noir, as many of his books would be turned into Noir Flims.


message 18: by Silver (new)

Silver How old is Dorothy supposed to be?

At first I was assuming in her 20s, because it seemed that clearly she was still young, but I never imagined her as literally still being a child but then Mimi declares that she is a minor.


message 19: by Ann (last edited Nov 22, 2014 06:39AM) (new)

Ann Silver wrote: "How old is Dorothy supposed to be?

At first I was assuming in her 20s, because it seemed that clearly she was still young, but I never imagined her as literally still being a child but then Mimi ..."


Gilbert is 18, "two years younger than his sister," so Dorothy is 20, still a minor back then, I guess.


message 20: by Feliks (last edited Nov 22, 2014 06:56AM) (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 44 comments Silver wrote: "But his works (at least from what I have read) embody many of the same elements which would came to define Film Noir, as many of his books would be turned into Noir Flims. ..."

This information is actually mistaken; but its understandable how that came to be. There's a lot of websites out there which 'get it wrong'. A lot of blogs 'lump the terms together' interchangeably.

The elements of Hammett's books never became the elements of noir. Many of his books were turned into detective films; but never noir films. Noir is very specific and comes from cinema; comes from cinema of a certain timeperiod; it never was a literary genre of its own. Authors later may have come along and tried to emulate it (with varying degrees of success) and that's fine-- but where it was designed to work best was the big screen. Part of noir (for example) is a certain 'look': a set of lighting and camera techniques. So even if a would-be 'noir author' writes what he thinks is a 'noir' story, he is not going to be able to capture what was purely a cameraman's style on a movie screen.

Another example: Hammett (in the late 1920s) always wrote from a detective's point-of-view. A detective working on the side of the law. But in noir, the protagonist can be any kind of man. A dock worker, a truck driver, a gambler; anybody. Even a bad guy can be a protagonist in a noir; they don't have to be good guys at all.

There's numerous other major differences between Hammett and noir.


message 21: by Ann (new)

Ann Ironic that that title is The Thin Man with such a gruesome sidebar as the true Alfred Packer story. (spoiler!)

"On April 16, 1874, Packer arrived at Los Pinos Indian Agency near Gunnison. He spent some time in a saloon in Saguache, Colorado, where he met several of his original party. Packer claimed he had acted in self-defense, but his story was not believed. According to a local newspaper, the presiding judge, M.B. Gerry, said:

“Stand up yah voracious man-eatin' sonofabitch and receive yir sintince. When yah came to Hinsdale County, there was siven Dimmycrats. But you, yah et five of 'em, goddam yah. I sintince yah t' be hanged by th' neck ontil yer dead, dead, dead, as a warnin' ag'in reducin' th' Dimmycratic populayshun of this county. Packer, you Republican cannibal, I would sintince ya ta hell but the statutes forbid it."


message 22: by Diane (new)

Diane Curlysloppy wrote: "Silver wrote: "How old is Dorothy supposed to be?"

Twenty one was the legal age of adulthood until the Vietnam War. People felt that if you could fight and perhaps give up your life for your country, you should legally be able to vote, drink, and have financial commitments without a co-signer.


message 23: by Silver (new)

Silver Feliks wrote: "This information is actually mistaken; but its understandable how that came to be. There's a lot of websites out there which 'get it wrong'. A lot of blogs 'lump the terms together' interchangeably. ."

I think it is a matter of personal opinion and how narrowly or broadly one chooses to interpret Noir. While it did begin initially as a cinematic genre in the 1940s that does not mean that other forms of art cannot and do not contain some of the same or similar characteristics which can be found commonly in many Noir films.

I happen to believe that Dashiell Hammett's books have many similar characteristics which can be found within Noir film, and there are many Noir fans who also see Hammett as fitting into the Noir genre. He is widely associated with Noir.


message 24: by Silver (new)

Silver Diane wrote: "Curlysloppy wrote: "Silver wrote: "How old is Dorothy supposed to be?"

Twenty one was the legal age of adulthood until the Vietnam War. People felt that if you could fight and perhaps give up your..."


Ok thank you. I was very confused about the age thing because they kept speaking of her as if she where a child, but then she would behave in a rather adult manner, and one of the cops said he was going to meet her for cocktails.


message 25: by Diane (new)

Diane Silver wrote: "Diane wrote: "Curlysloppy wrote: "Silver wrote: "How old is Dorothy supposed to be?"
Twenty one was the legal age of adulthood until the Vietnam War. People felt that if you could fight and perhap..."


The drinks thing confused me too because 21 was the legal age for drinking. I figured that perhaps at this economic level or social set, age was overlooked. I'm guessing that people weren't carded then either but I don't know for sure.


message 26: by Jamie (new)

Jamie  (jaymers8413) | 738 comments Mod
Silver wrote: "Feliks wrote: "This information is actually mistaken; but its understandable how that came to be. There's a lot of websites out there which 'get it wrong'. A lot of blogs 'lump the terms together' ..."

I also agree it's personal opinion. While the author's intention may not have been to have a noir film made about his book, some noir films obviously were influenced by him and fans categorize them together. If it wasn't for the film who knows how popular his books and others would be. I'm glad we get the chance to read them :)


message 27: by Feliks (last edited Nov 27, 2014 08:26AM) (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 44 comments My earlier comment deleted? :[

Let me re-state then--without any kind of personality or 'tone of voice' in my words at all--simply providing flat, bald statements of fact to this discussion.

It can't be a matter of personal opinion --because noir was not even conceived when Hammett wrote his works. Noir stemmed directly from WWII. There's just no getting around it. He couldn't have even known about it.

It can't be a matter of personal opinion because direct examination of Hammett's work, reveals no noir. Characters, plots, themes---nothing in his work actually has anything to do with noir. Its lacking in the books themselves.

The theory of "it's anyone's opinion" is not supported by the (fallacy) of saying, "oh, but many fans think so..." --because many fans simply swallow down these products without ever giving the matter any consideration at all.

It's not a well-formed argument either, to say that "well, this book (sort of) looks like this other book". Mere blind chance can account for that. To the casual glance, many automobiles look like other automobiles, many vases look like other vases, many dogs look like other dogs. But we base our judgments on facts, rather than appearances.

If Dashiell Hammett never lived or never wrote a single book, noir could still be said to have been 'influenced' --in some mild way--to the genre he wrote in: (crime). That's simply because 'noir', 'crime', and 'detective' films often may have guns and criminals. But there's no direct link to Hammett, other than that his works sold and became popular ...and noir films also sold and became popular. They're still not the same type of story at all. They're simply in the public realm together. So, fans of one, are often fans of the other.

Remember that Hammett's most famous work, 'Maltese Falcon' was filmed twice (1931 and 1936) before Huston/Bogart in 1941--and neither of these became influential cultural icons in any way. Fans never even recall them. So saying, Hammett is noir'-ish' is based on nothing more than people associating tough-talking Humphrey Bogart in all of this 'general style' of movie. That's just 'passing similarity'.

What happens is that its just easier for people to **lump these styles** together. Its easy to remember a household-name like 'Hammett'. But Hammett did not create everything, and "ascribing everything-to-him" steals credit from a lot of other talents who's names people 'can't be bothered to recall'.

It's just not fair. It was very hard to coin a new narrative structure like noir--and now we steal away the fame those innovators deserve? Its never right to spread disinformation like this.

Sure, we all insist on forming our own opinions, but none of us have the privilege to falsify information or history for others.

Moderator, I'd appreciate it if you let these remarks remain in this thread. If you feel I'm too tenacious? I'll take my leave of the group itself. But let's respect truth.


message 28: by Jamie (last edited Nov 27, 2014 11:03AM) (new)

Jamie  (jaymers8413) | 738 comments Mod
Feliks wrote: "My earlier comment deleted? :[

Let me re-state then--without any kind of personality or 'tone of voice' in my words at all--simply providing flat, bald statements of fact to this discussion.

It c..."


My name is Jamie, not moderator, but I am here to keep order by making everyone comfortable. Everybody is allowed to have an opinion. You clearly stated yours well before the post I deleted. I felt it was argumentative and if it was directed at me I would have been mad. To keep everyone happy I made the decision to prevent these feelings in others. I figured you would get the hint without further words having to be said. Sometimes when people do not agree its best to agree to disagree and move on. Nobody was saying you were wrong. They just connect noir films and certain books together. It's really not the end of the world and this is meant to be a fun place to get together not a high place of learning. As to you leaving the group, that is up to you, but I won't tolerate arguing or putting down other group members. We value each other's opinions including yours so I hope you stay, just try not pressing you opinions/facts on others.

Happy Thanksgiving!


message 29: by Ann (last edited Nov 29, 2014 06:28PM) (new)

Ann I love Goodreads book discussions, but it's easy to misinterpret what is said when we can't hear a voice or see the look in someone's eye. I hope the conversation can continue... as Jamie said, it's "a fun place to get together."


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