This book is such a given, I thought I’d already wrote my little piece on it–but no! Anyone who hasn’t heard of the book must be living in a sad place. If you’ve not read it, only heard of it, you are living in a grey place. If you’ve only seen the film, and not read the book, your world is overcast. Only if you’ve read the book can you claim to be of the living, IMHO. Ok, naturally that’s going a bit far. The Maltese Falcon is so pleasurable a read, and yet so influential in style, character, genre, that it’s taken for granted. I’ve reread it a couple of times, something unheard of for me, and each time is as satisfying as the last.
I’m struggling to find questions for those authors who are among the living, partially because I am woefully behind in reading current mystery writers’ work. It does take a modicum of knowledge regarding a detective series, or suspense novel which one can only really get from spending time trundling across the internet for tidbits, or cracking open and reading through a book. What I do
have, is a ridiculous amount of dead authors books under my belt. It occurred to me that I have questions for many of those whose work lives on, long past their creators expiration dates. For example, Rex Stout. The man created an iconic character out of…? Did Mr. Stout dream up Nero Wolfe, the agoraphobic, beer swilling, orchid loving, gourmand after a indigestible meal? His cohort, Archie Godwin is more typical of the genre, while Wolfe is decidedly a unique voice. Stout wrote other things before embarking on his best selling series. How and when did this inspiration hit him? I would think that a publisher being pitched the idea of Wolfe would have been skeptical at the very least. To Erle Stanley Gardner, the mastermind behind Perry Mason, I’d want to know why he couldn’t put pen to paper. He dictated his books to his, ‘secretary’.
Quotations because he eventually married that secretary, finally, after the wife passed on. I’d also like to know how much or little real law is used within the books. When reading a Gardner, I’m struck by how Mason either eludes laws, or just plain breaks them and gets away with it. If, as a former lawyer, Gardner’s writing what he knows, did he circumvent the law while practicing?
Some may say, well, hell, this books is a given, of course it belongs on the list. But are they thinking of the written word, or the iconic film starring William Powell and Myrna Loy? Is there a huge difference between the two? I’d say, no, not a huge difference, but differences there are. It’s hard to look at title such as this one and imagine how a reader would see it sans the imitators and film adaptations. Hammett’s imagination brought forth the sparkling upper class couple whose life seems full of drink, parties, and more drink. Written from Nick Charles’ point of view, the sentences are crisp, quick and easy going. The plot starts out within the first paragraph as a young lady approaches Charles at a NY hotel bar, while he’s waiting for his rich wife Nora, to return from shopping. The ‘thin’ man of the title is not Nick Charles, as many have believed, but the victim, or one of them. The young lady’s father is missing, his secretary and lover is found dead, and Nick insists he’s not been a detective since his wife’s father died and all those millions needed looking after.
How many times can that be stated, I wonder? Naturally, it is assumed the opposite is true, that the book is sacred, and no cinematic representation can enhance it to the extent that the final result is more satisfying, or artistically superior than the original thoughts laid down on paper by the author. One of … Read more
I asked myself, what does that mean? The best books of all time? Best fiction? Best nonfiction? Both? From what time frame–the beginning of time–do cave drawings count? Books–are plays included, how about poems, religious tomes, children’s books, what languages, the questions were endless, with no definitive answer. The lists I saw ranged from strict … Read more