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Old Sam

July 14, 2011

With an Amazon gift card (thanks, Kak!) comes birthday books. And for someone who has been reading a lot of Raymond Chandler, Jim Thompson and Mickey Spillane, I’m pretty ashamed I have yet to pick up a Dashiell Hammett book. But I’m informed the order has shipped, so Britt has many an evening to look forward to of me attempting to extricate myself from the living room while I pretend to read, but really just fall asleep.

Interesting fact, Samuel Dashiell Hammett was from Maryland. Here’s a link to the great and mighty Wikipedia page, if you are so inclined.

Hammett was a disabled WWI vet with tuberculosis that was a registered Communist. He drank a lot, was involved in left-wing activism and wound up re-enlisting for WWII.  After the war, he picked up his activism, which included civil rights, got thrown in jail, plead the 5th (in court on my birthday in 1951) and subsequently served time in West Virginia scrubbing toilets. McCarthy later blacklisted him. In that time, he’d been diagnosed with emphysema, and, two weeks before he died, was diagnosed with lung cancer. He also wrote some books. That’s the abbreviated Pat Sullivan version. In short, Dashiell Hammett was a true American Hero.

I ordered The Thin Man, which is actually the last book he wrote. I’ll move on to Sam Spade later on. Plot summary:

The story is set in Prohibition-era New York City. The main characters are a former private Detective Nick Charles, and his clever young wife, Nora. Nick, son of a Greek immigrant, has given up his career since marrying Nora, a wealthy socialite, and he now spends most of his time cheerfully getting drunk in hotel rooms and speakeasies. Nick and Nora have no children, but they do own a wire-haired terrier named Asta.

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