Hammett: The Last Stand


How about a couple more pics from the panel in Mechanics’ Library on September 30?

From left to right, both images: me, Nathan Ward, David Fechheimer — bottom shot, I’m holding aloft for the crowd to gander a November 4, 1975 issue of City Magazine, published for awhile in San Francisco by Francis Ford Coppola, this issue devoted to Hammett — Fechheimer acted a Guest Editor for that one.

I suppose you could add a copy of City to your Xmas Wish List, but it tends to be kind of pricey. Or just grab Nathan’s The Lost Detective, since he goes over the best info in City to construct the bio.

One of my favorite moments came near the end — a casual, almost throwaway line. Hammett is working in 1933 on what would be his final novel, The Thin Man, and Nathan writes:

But, in an impressive last stand, he finished the book. . . .

Nathan’s got that mindset, where you have Last Stands — and The Thin Man was Hammett’s last stand as a fiction writer — and Showdowns. The same attitude invests his previous book, Dark Harbor. Very proletarian, evocative of the pulp era. A world seething with violence, where you may have to fight to the end.

And as Hammett ran out of the tremendous creative energies that had propelled him through the pages of Black Mask and other pulps in the 1920s, his back to wall because he needed the money, he completed another detective novel. . . .

The Thin Man as the Alamo. Yeah, that’s the thumbnail of why I like Nathan’s bio.


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