Item description for Crime Stories and Other Writings (Library of America) by Dashiell Hammett & Steven Marcus...
Overview A revealing look inside the mind of the one of the great writers of detective fiction includes essays, twenty-four stories, and an early version of "The Thin Man."
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 1" Width: 5.25" Height: 8" Weight: 1.35 lbs.
Release Date Sep 10, 2001
Publisher Library of America
ISBN 1931082006 ISBN13 9781931082006
Availability 0 units.
More About Dashiell Hammett & Steven Marcus
Dashiell Samuel Hammett was born in St. Mary's County, Maryland. He grew up in Philadelphia and Baltimore. Hammett left school at the age of fourteen and held several kinds of jobs thereafter--messenger boy, newsboy, clerk, operator, and stevedore, finally becoming an operative for Pinkerton's Detective Agency. Sleuthing suited young Hammett, but World War I intervened, interrupting his work and injuring his health. When Sergeant Hammett was discharged from the last of several hospitals, he resumed detective work. He soon turned to writing, and in the late 1920s Hammett became the unquestioned master of detective-story fiction in America. In The Maltese Falcon (1930) he first introduced his famous private eye, Sam Spade. The Thin Man (1932) offered another immortal sleuth, Nick Charles. Red Harvest (1929), The Dain Curse (1929), and The Glass Key (1931) are among his most successful novels. During World War II, Hammett again served as sergeant in the Army, this time for more than two years, most of which he spent in the Aleutians. Hammett's later life was marked in part by ill health, alcoholism, a period of imprisonment related to his alleged membership in the Communist Party, and by his long-time companion, the author Lillian Hellman, with whom he had a very volatile relationship. His attempt at autobiographical fiction survives in the story "Tulip," which is contained in the posthumous collection The Big Knockover (1966, edited by Lillian Hellman). Another volume of his stories, The Continental Op (1974, edited by Stephen Marcus), introduced the final Hammett character: the "Op," a nameless detective (or "operative") who displays little of his personality, making him a classic tough guy in the hard-boiled mold--a bit like Hammett himself.
Dashiell Hammett was born in 1894 and died in 1961.
Reviews - What do customers think about Crime Stories and Other Writings (Library of America)?
Who was that detective? Oct 30, 2007
Dashiel Hammett, along with Raymond Chandler, reinvented the detective genre in the 1930's and 1940's. They moved the genre away from the amateurish and simple parlor detectives that had previously dominated the genre to hard-boiled action characters who knew what was what and didn't mind taking a beating to get the bad guys. And along the way they produced some very memorable literary characters as well. Nick Charles, Sam Spade and Phillip Marlowe are well known exemplars of the action detective. However, on the way to creating these literary works of art Hammett did journeyman's work at the detective genre in various pulp detective magazines. The series of stories produced here in one volume is from that period. Kudos to the Library of America.
The unnamed universal Continental Operative who is the central character of the stories is the prototype for Hammett's later named detectives. He has all the characteristics that mark a noir detective-tough, resourceful, undaunted, and incorruptible with a sense of honor to friend and foe alike that sets him apart from earlier detectives. Although the stories are mainly set in San Francisco the Op branches out to other locales in some of the stories but he keeps those same virtues. If you want mainly well-thought out stories that are also well-written this is for you. Additionally, and this may be as good a reason to read this book as the stories is an early version of his classic Thin Man. A very different take from the one we know and love.
Large Collection of Hammett Stories in One Enduring Volume. Aug 16, 2004
"Crime Stories and Other Writings" contains 24 short stories and 3 additional selections, arranged chronologically, which Dashiell Hammett wrote between 1923 and 1934. The stories all first appeared in pulp fiction magazines and span all but one year of the master of detective fiction's career. "Crime Stories" offers three stories which cannot be found in any other volume currently in print: "Arson Plus" and "Slippery Finger", which were first published in "Black Mask" magazine under the pseudonym Peter Collinson, and "Creeping Siamese". These stories all feature the Continental Op detective, an always nameless, stubbornly practical character whom Hammett based on a fellow detective from his days at Pinkerton Detective Agency, Jimmy Wright, and on himself. Nineteen of this book's stories feature the Continental Op, making it the largest collection of Op stories available. Among the best of these are "Zig Zags of Treachery", "The House on Turk Street", "The Whosis Kid", and "The Big Knockover". "The Girl with the Silver Eyes" is a follow-up to "The House on Turk Street", so be sure to read "Turk Street" first. "The Big Knockover" and "$106,000 Blood Money" were originally a two-parter, but were published as a single novella in 1943. As their styles differ somewhat, the stories are more successful when separated, as they are here. The story called "Women, Politics and Murder" in this volume has been called "Death on Pine Street" in other volumes; they're the same story. It's interesting to note that "Fly Paper" was inspired by two real cases of murder that employed the same peculiar method. Among the five stories that do not feature the Continental Op is the novella "Woman in the Dark". It's mediocre, but has often been published as a stand-alone volume.
The three "Other Writings" to which the book's title refers are: "The Thin Man: An Early Typescript", "From the Memoirs of a Private Detective", and "Suggestions to Detective Story Writers". The early version of "The Thin Man" was written in 1930, four years before the final product was to be published and bears only the most superficial resemblance to the now-famous sleuthing of Nick and Nora Charles. It's a good story that introduces a new detective, John Guild of the Associated Detective Bureau. That it was never finished is regrettable. "From the Memoirs of a Private Detective" is 29 short anecdotes and words of wisdom gained from Hammett's experience as a real detective, first published in "The Smart Set" in 1923. Some of these are very funny. In "Suggestions to Detective Story Writers", Hammett, frustrated by the abundant inaccuracies in detective fiction written by non-detectives, sets the record straight on 24 common errors. This was first published in "The New York Post" in 1930 and is interesting, if out of date at this point. Editor Stephen Marcus has included a Chronology of the important events in Dashiell Hammett's life in the back of the book, as well as explanations of potentially cryptic slang terms and period references in "Notes", also found in the back.
With 24 short stories and 3 additional pieces of writing, "Crime Stories and Other Writings" is the most comprehensive single volume of Dashiell Hammett's short fiction available. Hats off to the Library of America for publishing 3 stories that are not currently found in any other volume. Unfortunately, you will still have to buy all four collections of Hammett's short stories to get all available stories: this one plus "Nightmare Town" from Knopf and "The Continental Op" and "The Big Knockover" from Vintage Crime. If you don't care to have every story, but would like a sizable sampling that includes some of Hammett's best, "Crime Stories and Other Writings" is an excellent choice. It contains the largest number of stories, presented in an attractive compact hardback volume and printed on thin acid-free paper, making it far more durable than other collections. This is a nice volume for both the casually curious and the addicted Dashiell Hammett fan.
What's wrong with the Library of America? Sep 10, 2002
First they claim to have all of Raymond Chandler's stories in one volume. They don't, four are missing, and just happen to be the ones most sought after by true fans. Not to mention the eight they admit to omitting. They're excuse? Considerations for length and theme, it's true that three of the missing four are not mysteries, and that is what makes them unique. But why did they leave out "The Pencil"? The length problem could have been solved by omitting the section of Chandler's letters, there are whole volumes dedicated to those. And they could have cut some of the essays that are also included in other volumes, and replaced them with other essays that are rotting away in issues of the Atlantic Monthly. And they could have omitted the "Double Indemnity script and repalced it with "The Blue Dahlia" which is out of print. That is how they messed up their "definative"' collection of Chandler and they seem to have made worse editing choices with their collection of Hammmett's stories. The way it stands now, if you want every story Hammett wrote you must buy this book. It includes five stories that appear to be collected here for the first time. But, then you'll have to buy "Nightmare Town" and the "Big Knockover". Why did LOA do it this way? Why not omit the four stories already available in "Nightmare Town" amd replace them with the three that are missing from "The Big Knockover"? That way if you bought "Nightmare Town" you'd have the twelve remaining stories and you're collection is complete. If they were strapped for space they could omit the 58 page typescript for "'The Thin Man".
Collected Pulp Fiction Aug 16, 2002
I debated whether this should be 3 stars or 4, and decided on 4 because of the creative plots and characters. Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961) dropped out of school at the age of 15, working at a variety of jobs before joining the Pinkerton Dectective Agency at the age of 21, working there before and after his service in the US Army during World War I. He came down with TB in the Army, and continuing illnesses made it difficult for him to work, so he became a writer. He is best known for the "Maltese Falcon" and other novels. He died penniless, largely due to judgements by the IRS for unpaid income taxes.
It is apparent from some of the other reviews that reviewers are unfamiliar with the process of publishing a collection. There are copyrights involved, and it is necessary to obtain permission from the copyright holders, often a different publisher (which may or may not be forthcoming). There are also fees payable to copyright holders, and demands sometimes make it impractical to include material (I am speaking from personal experience).
This collection contains 24 shorter stories originally published between 1923 and 1934, mainly in "Black Mask," with one each from "Argosy," "Mystery Stories," "Liberty," and "Colliers." The 20 stories from "Black Mask" feature the Continental Op, a detective from the Continental Detective Agency who is described as fat but never identified by name - call him "the Fat Man" for purposes of reference. The stories are in narrative form, as told by the main character. There is also an early typescript of "The Thin Man," various notes by the author, and biographical material on his life.
Rather than being literary masterpieces, these stories were written as entertainment for the masses. They are written in the somewhat macho style of that time period, with dead bodies left about the landscape. The Fat Man is not quite Fearless Fosdick, but he survives more than a normal amount of blows, knife wounds, and near misses from bullets. The stories will appeal to those readers who like live action. They may have less appeal to readers looking for high tech (computers, cell phones, etc.). There are interesting references to the time period with people driving Locomobiles, etc., and directing someone to "keep the steam up." A lot of the action is in San Francisco in the 1920's. This was an era before Miranda Rights, etc., when police were more inclined to kick in a door and sometimes slap people aside the head.
There are interesting characters sprinkled through the stories. One man has the ultimate con game, hiring himself out as a hit man and collecting the advance with no intention of performing the hit. What can his clients do, complain to the police? His idea of a money tree is someone with lots of enemies.
Like most collections, there is some variation in quality. The volume is good value for the money with 900 pages of stories. While well bound, the volume is printed on somewhat thin paper which could be easily damaged.
An undeniable "must" for any mystery buff! Nov 11, 2001
Dashiell Hammett was the celebrated author and experienced detective who has been acclaimed as the father of the American hardboiled crime novel. This anthology of his work proves him to be a master of short stories as well. His tales, originally written for pulp magazines such as Black Mask in the 1920's and 1930's, drew upon the realities of American streets and American speech to create adventures felt and sounded truly real. This comprehensive collection from the original texts as they appeared in the pulps is free of the cuts and revisions imposed by later editors. In addition to 24 stories, Dashiell Hammett: Crime Stories And Other Writings also contains essays and an early version of Hammett's novel "The Thin Man." Dashiell Hammett: Crime Stories And Other Writings is an undeniable "must" for any mystery buff!