Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Paperback 518: Red Harvest / Dashiell Hammett (Pocket Books 241)

Paperback 518: Pocket Books 241 (1st ptg, 1943)

Title: Red Harvest
Author: Dashiell Hammett
Cover artist: H. Lawrence Hoffman

Yours for: $17

Best things about this cover:
  • A classic hard-boiled novel. This one's been well read, but is still solid. Pleasantly aged. Late-night, nearly-empty bus station quality.
  • That's a pretty awful hand. And the smoke looks like a poop parsnip. And the blood is orange. I still like it.
  • Haven't read this in a Long while. Might be time.

Best things about this back cover:
  • "A BLOODY HUMORESQUE" = gold! Like you'd Ever see a word like "humoresque" on a piece of popular fiction now. 
  • Ellipsis ... much?
  • "Choice underworld vernacular" pretty much says it all about what makes the best hard-boiled writing so delectable.
  • "A harvest of ill-grown crimson weeds!"
  • Wait, those are quotes??? Had they not yet figured out the standard for blurb presentation yet in 1943? "What if we just throw all these sentences down in a jumble, separate them with ellipses, then just list the names of the quotation authors in a heap at the end. Readers will love that."

Page 123~
"Now hop to it," I said. "And don't kid yourself that there's any law in Poisonville except what you make for yourself."
Hardboiled philosophy has rarely been so clearly, succinctly, perfectly expressed.


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Tulse said...

Hardest job ever: Head of Tourism for Poisonville.

Random White Guy said...

The thumb is erupting! The thumb is erupting! Run for the index finger! Every detestable character for himself!

Deb said...

One of the greats. Essential reading for anyone interested in the evolution of the hard-boiled/pulp/noir/private-eye genre.

Doug Brunell said...

It's been decades since I've read this. I think I want to revisit ... but perhaps with a copy that has a less off-putting cover.

Marius said...

"RED HARVEST is just what its name implies ... a harvest of ill grown chrimson weeds"

Hammett was at my dinner table in the '30's?

Pa - Well, the north forty is a total waste due to this damned drought!
Ma - What did you plant there?
Pa - Chrimson weeds.
Ma - WTF!?!? You planted crimson weeds? They're fucking weeds! You don't plant weeds, you kill weeds!
Pa - I didn't think anything else would grow!
Ma - But still, you don't plant weeds! What were you going to do with them if they grew - Harvest them and sell what? Weed seeds?
Pa - I didn't think that far ahead.

Rick said...

A great hardboiled novel by a master.

A description of bootleg gin tasting "like it had been drained out of an embalmed corpse" has stuck with me for decades...

Doug Brunell said...

I don't know which is worse, bootleg gin or embalmed corpse juice.

R. McGeddon said...

Great book, with one of the best opening paragraphs ever.

I've always been convinced that Kurosawa's Yojimbo was based on it, but Wikipedia tells me that's doubtful.