News: December 2008


No extra walks have been set for December, and in fact Don got so buried in other stuff we didn’t even do News for October or November — still, we figured John’s Grill making it to its one-hundredth anniversary last month kind of handled the Hammett action in San Francisco for the moment. And after this year-end lull it looks as if the beginning of 2009 is going to be as fast and furious as the bank robbery scene in The Big Knockover.


If you’re quick, you can catch a tribute to the poet laureate of the Cool Grey City of Love, George Sterling, hosted by David Katznelson and the San Francisco Appreciation Society — Sunday November 30, 3:30 p.m. in George Sterling Park located next to the Alice Marble Tennis Courts on Russian Hill. This one celebrates the 139th anniversary of Sterling’s birth and the one-hundredth anniversary of the publication of his spectacular long poem, A Wine of Wizardry. Don has been involved in various tributes to Sterling over the years, including the initial steps to get this park named in Sterling’s honor, so you can expect to see him in attendance. He still remembers a program he m.c.ed in the Old Main Library — was it in 1982? — where the great fantasy and science fiction author Fritz Leiber, son of the Shakespearian actor of the same name, read A Wine of Wizardry in full — the single finest reading Don has heard thus far in his life.


And if, like Don has, you follow mysteries set in San Francisco, you might want to check out the Fall 2008 issue of the Mystery Readers Journal from Janet Rudolph. This one reprints Don’s article “Collecting San Francisco Mysteries” with new chapter headings added in, but also features many new essays and reviews covering the local scene, with an array of current Bay Area crime writers commenting on their work. For fans of crime fiction set in San Francisco, not to be missed — and we understand the next issue will be devoted to Bay Area mysteries, as well.


Folk who keep track of Don’s writings ought to check out the August 2008 issue of The Cimmerian, for which Don revived his notorious alter ego “George Knight” for the long essay “Conan the Argonaut” — arguing that if Robert E. Howard had lived, he would have taken his barbarian hero with him from the pulp pages of Weird Tales over to Argosy.


The photo at the top and the one here on the left come courtesy of Tom Bannister, who took a whole set on the walk for Sunday September 7th this year. The thing is, Tom was one of Don’s flat mates in 646 Clayton when he first came to San Francisco in 1974, and they hadn’t seen each other since! Tom tracked the tour down after seeing it referenced on Jeopardy! years ago — amazing detective work.


Recently Don did an interview with Swedish Public Radio for a special about Hammett — if they do a podcast, we’ll provide a link, for sure. Plus we hear that the Akashic Books collection San Francisco Noir 2: The Classics featuring Don’s neo-Black Mask story “Knives in the Dark” ought to be in stores any day now — it looks as if local publication parties and bookstore signings will happen in February and March next year (again, news as it happens). About that same time Don has agreed to introduce a couple of movies based on Charles Willeford novels for the Pacific Film Archive, plus do a couple of talks in Boise (yes, Boise), and sit in on a panel about hard-boiled and noir fiction during the Tucson Book Fair. And somewhere right in there — for those of you have been waiting, patiently or otherwise — Vince Emery ought have the next edition of The Dashiell Hammett Tour book ready to hit the mean streets.

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