April 19, 2015

The Thin Man
Dashiell Hammett

You, Again – In a 1980 interview at MIT, the great writer Jorge Luis Borges observed, “Ah, there is something far better than reading, and that is rereading, going deeper into it because you have read it, enriching it. I should advise people to read little but to reread much.” Rereading one of Dashiell Hammett’s two masterworks (“The Maltese Falcon” is the other, of course) is like spending a good, leisurely afternoon with a wise, old friend: Maybe you’ve heard these stories about these people before, but all of a sudden you’re hearing and seeing and learning something new. For me, this time, “The Thin Man” retained its breakneck pace, seductive romance, and witty banter; but also featured telling references to the economic times (just off the brink of the Great Depression), which seem stunningly current, and one of the all-time best examples of literary elision when detective Nick Charles is alone in a hotel bedroom with young, flirtatious Dorothy:

I put my arms around her. “To hell with them.”
After a while she asked: “Is Mama in love with you?”

That “After a while” covers a lot of ground in a featherweight story like “The Thin Man.” Those three words – and the dozens left out – typify exquisite craftsmanship.


Anonymous Vicky said...

I took this out of the library this past Friday!

April 20, 2015  

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