Dashiell Hammett, Man of Mystery – “What Dreams Are Made Of”

February 15, 2014


Dashiell Hammett, Man of Mystery 

by Sally Cline

Paperback: 264 pages

Publisher: Arcade Publishing

$16.38 on Amazon, less for Kindle (Click: Dashiell Hammett: Man of Mystery)

There are some things Sally Cline does extremely well – summarizing books and movies, explaining how literary techniques (such as, point of view) effect an audience, and presenting the historic background in which Hammett lived thought he himself didn’t seem to grasp or appreciate it.

I liked the no-holds bared presentation of his and Lillian Hellman’s lives. But some of Cline’s conclusions are questionable – for example, that Dash did better with companies of men rather than women and I missed the appeal of both Hammett and Hellman. They were public figures who were, for whatever reason, attractive to others.

Do we better understand his twenty years of writer’s block? Yes, but not in a way that is redemptive.

We are looking for something in his writing, in his life, that we don’t have in ours. After reading this book. I am still looking.

4 out of 5


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