Sam Spade said, “I don’t mind a reasonable amount of trouble.”
And that’s what he’s got. Nathan Ward — whose upcoming new biography of Hammett is being proofread and copyedited and put through the hoops right now — just popped me a note:
“Don’t know if you are following the controversy, but Erik Larson is bravely curating the Wall St Journal’s book of the month online discussion of The Maltese Falcon. While a lot of readers are getting something out of it, it has been amazing how many readers can’t get past their dumbfoundedness that Spade is a . . . sexist.
“They seem disappointed in him, as if he were a prospect on Match.com.
“When it comes to old movies, you don’t hear these complaints as much: I fear people are more sophisticated now about video than its literary inspiration.
“Anyway, it’s pretty nervy for readers from the era of Mr. Grey and his bondage tie collection to talk down to the 1920s.”
So reports Nathan Ward from the mean streets of New York, and the meanest street of them all, Wall Street.