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Swinging it

Mark Ford, 7 July 1988

S.J. Perelman: A Life 
by Dorothy Herrmann.
Simon and Schuster, 337 pp., £14.95, November 1987, 0 671 65460 8
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Don’t tread on me: The Selected Letters of S.J. Perelman 
edited by Prudence Crowther.
Viking, 372 pp., £14.95, October 1987, 0 670 81759 7
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... than Laura, whose affairs were infrequent, but included a glamorous though brief elopement with Dashiell Hammett to San Francisco. Perelman asked Laura for a divorce at one point during the winter of 1969, but soon after she was found to be suffering from terminal breast cancer, which resulted in her death only a few months later. Both were devastated ...

Right-ons

Jenny Turner, 24 October 1991

Gaudi Afternoon 
by Barbara Wilson.
Virago, 172 pp., £4.99, August 1991, 1 85381 264 1
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The players come again 
by Amanda Cross.
Virago, 229 pp., £12.99, August 1991, 1 85381 306 0
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Poetic Justice 
by Amanda Cross.
Virago, 176 pp., £4.99, August 1991, 1 85381 025 8
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Birth Marks 
by Sarah Dunant.
Joseph, 230 pp., £13.99, April 1991, 0 7181 3511 3
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Burn Marks 
by Sara Paretsky.
Virago, 340 pp., £4.99, April 1991, 9781853812798
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Deep Sleep 
by Frances Fyfield.
Heinemann, 198 pp., £13.99, September 1991, 0 434 27426 7
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... but has been in continuous evolution, both in fiction and in the cinema, since it was invented by Dashiell Hammett in the Twenties. And the dominant aesthetic in American art, from Walt Whitman to Lou Reed, has always been most powerful when adopting the perspective of outsider, underclass and little people: precisely the perspective needed for socially ...

Royal Classic Knitwear

Margaret Anne Doody: Iris and Laura, 5 October 2000

The Blind Assassin 
by Margaret Atwood.
Bloomsbury, 521 pp., £16.99, September 2000, 0 7475 4937 0
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... rooms in which the lovers’ meetings take place rival in squalor those depicted by Hemingway, Dashiell Hammett and other male specialists of the ‘hard-boiled’ school. (We first meet the lover and his lady at a picnic, as he eats a hard-boiled egg, peeling it with his teeth, in an early chapter entitled ‘The Hard-Boiled Egg’.) The hero of ...

Toxic Lozenges

Jenny Diski: Arsenic, 8 July 2010

The Arsenic Century: How Victorian Britain Was Poisoned at Home, Work and Play 
by James Whorton.
Oxford, 412 pp., £16.99, January 2010, 978 0 19 957470 4
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... the English suburbs and towards the grittier (and far more romantic) novels written by himself and Dashiell Hammett. An explanation of sorts had already been offered by George Orwell. In ‘Decline of the English Murder’ (1946), he meditated on the apparent passing of the homely crime of murder as it was commonly reported in the British popular ...

Fanfaronade

Will Self: James Ellroy, 2 December 2010

The Hilliker Curse: My Pursuit of Women 
by James Ellroy.
Heinemann, 203 pp., £16.99, September 2010, 978 0 434 02064 5
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... choice of becoming a novelist, Ellroy’s dramatic arc flings him back into an earlier era. Like Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler – to whom he is an obvious heir – Ellroy comes to the hardboiled school out of the raw life he seeks to fictionalise. But unlike theirs, Ellroy’s life – considered as the test-bed of his work – is absurdly ...

Retro-Selfies

Iain Sinclair: Ferlinghetti, 17 December 2015

I Greet You at the Beginning of a Great Career: The Selected Correspondence of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg, 1955–97 
edited by Bill Morgan.
City Lights, 284 pp., £11.83, July 2015, 978 0 87286 678 2
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Writing across the Landscape: Travel Journals 1960-2010 
by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, edited by Giada Diano and Matthew Gleeson.
Liveright, 464 pp., £22.99, October 2015, 978 1 63149 001 9
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... along with a catalogue of deceased luminaries: Mark Twain, Ambrose Bierce, Isadora Duncan, Dashiell Hammett, Kenneth Rexroth and Jack Kerouac. Via Ferlinghetti, formerly known as Price Row, is a dead-end off Union Street in San Francisco. It was dedicated on 24 April 1994 in a ceremony attended by Michael McClure and Philip Whalen. Ginsberg, in ...

There are some limits Marlowes just won’t cross

Christopher Tayler: Banville’s Marlowe, 3 April 2014

The Black-Eyed Blonde 
by Benjamin Black.
Mantle, 320 pp., £16.99, February 2014, 978 1 4472 3668 9
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... him animates the books: Marlowe’s voice, built on Hemingway and New Yorker-style wit as much as Dashiell Hammett, sees to that. But Chandler’s ambivalence about sex, California and industrial civilisation in general is a big part of his para-modernist appeal. You don’t have to squint too hard to see a resemblance to The Waste Land in The Big ...

A Faint Sound of Rust

Michael Wood, 21 October 1993

‘The Pit’ and ‘Tonight’ 
by Juan Carlos Onetti, translated by Peter Bush.
Quartet, 216 pp., £12.95, June 1991, 0 7043 2767 8
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The Shipyard 
by Juan Carlos Onetti, translated by Nick Caistor.
Serpent’s Tail, 186 pp., £8.99, February 1992, 1 85242 191 6
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‘Farewells’ and ‘A Grave with No Name’ 
by Juan Carlos Onetti, translated by Peter Bush.
Quartet, 136 pp., £12.95, March 1992, 0 7043 7015 8
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Body Snatcher 
by Juan Carlos Onetti, translated by Alfred MacAdam.
Quartet, 305 pp., £13.95, October 1991, 9780704327979
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A Brief Life 
by Juan Carlos Onetti, translated by Hortense Carpentier.
Serpent’s Tail, 292 pp., £9.99, February 1993, 1 85242 301 3
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Cuando ya no importe 
by Juan Carlos Onetti.
Alfaguara, 205 pp., £10.95, March 1993, 84 204 8107 6
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... so that he was able to become something like a Conrad who had soaked himself in Beckett, or a Dashiell Hammett who had been reading Camus and Ionesco. These are wild approximations, of course. Onetti’s voice and subject-matter are his own, and their very elusiveness has played a part in his neglect. The other part was played by accident. Onetti was ...

Diary

August Kleinzahler: Drinking Bourbon in the Zam Zam Room, 8 August 2002

... was a piece of old San Francisco, a place that no longer existed except in films, photographs and Dashiell Hammett novels. ‘There were only two great cities in the world,’ Bruno liked to say, ‘and both of them are gone: San Francisco and Shanghai. They had intrigue and class. They were international and everyone dressed right.’ Dressing right was ...

Big Pod

Richard Poirier: How Podhoretz Dumped His Friends, 2 September 1999

Ex-Friends 
by Norman Podhoretz.
Free Press, 256 pp., $25, February 1999, 0 684 85594 1
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... used in the Fifties to harass people like her and eventually to imprison and impoverish her lover, Dashiell Hammett. Podhoretz’s anti-anti-American attacks were therefore inferentially an attack on her, or so she decided. Accordingly, she summoned him ‘for a talk’ – a phrase he took as a warning of trouble ahead. There were to be just the two of ...

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