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Into the Alley

Daniel Soar: Dashiell Hammett, 3 January 2002

Nightmare Town: Stories 
by Dashiell Hammett, edited by Kirby McCauley and Martin Greenberg et al.
Picador, 396 pp., £16.99, March 2001, 0 330 48109 6
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Selected Letters of Dashiell Hammett 1921-60 
edited by Richard Layman and Julie Rivett.
Counterpoint, 650 pp., £28.99, June 2001, 1 58243 081 0
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... A blank page is frightening. Something has to be written, but how do you choose the words? Why this word and not that? How to overcome the arbitrariness of writing? One way is to trick yourself, to pretend that what you’re about to write has already been written, that someone has been there already and that you’re only following his traces, trying to reconstruct what must have happened ...

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