“Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon” as it relates to Dashiell Hammett

(originally posted 1/6/09)

Well, I imagine Neil Diamond is still a bit baffled about this, but the song he penned IS one of the identifiable connections to Pulp Fiction in modern culture, and Quentin Tarantino does deserve credit for mining this, and re-introducing the term into the popular vernacular (the film is the first thing that comes up if it’s worth a google to you).

Donning trenchcoats and various noir-esque hats, then leaving them behind our screen, The Naked Girls again dared to reveal both our bodies and full unadulterated flesh..! Oh, we left the hats on.

“In a stormy Balkan country, a land of violent politics and passion, where an American millionaire has gone very far astray…”

I  focused on Dashiell Hammett’s Continental Op stories. The Continental Op is “Cooler-than-cool, an ungentle man you will never forget..” (as advertised on the back cover of my copy of the 1967 Dell paperback, when Lillian Hellman held the copyright to his works – which is a bit of a controversy on its own.)  I read “This King Business”, a story from The Big Knockover.

I wanted to keep Hammett humanized, however, in order to make sure his “poetry of violence” didn’t totally overshadow the man who is buried at Arlington National Cemetary, a veteran of two World Wars, and was blacklisted as a result of  McCarthyism in the 1950’s. His grave reads Samuel D Hammett — Dashiell was his mother’s maiden name.

To address this,  I read a few of his personal quotes, such as “Feed the Lettuce to the bunny and eat the bunny.” ha!

Lillian Hellman wrote the intro to the copy I own (bought in one of my favourite but sadly defunct used bookstores, in Duluth, Minnesota).  Hellman described an era when “Dash” was broke and in NYC.  Hammett had burned through all his money on items such an an expensive crossbow, and was living on a small advance for The Thin Man. She describes the care and pride he put into his work at this time. He stopped drinking and partying, and locked himself in a run down hotel to write. She also describes how everyone wanted to be liked by him. He was the guy who the guards called “sir” in jail. He was that guy.

Also during our Pulp fiction brunch, held on a Sunday noon-time hour, we played a game called “Judge A Book By Its Cover”. We splayed out all the books we had collected on our reading table and let our guests — we had a grand old time with this! — choose a few, then we opened to a random page and began to read. That for me is one of the delightful aspects of this type of collection of books.

I read Asimov’s Choice: Astronauts & Androids (1977). Co-edited by George H. Shithers! I was thrilled, intrigued! THE Isaac Asimov, from the Golden Age of Science Fiction! Co-editor associated with Weird Tales ! As I told the audience, upon reading this, now perhaps I have gained interest in becoming a science professor, (yes, in one of my many lives..). The passage I was prescribed to read had to do with a big build-up to….. helium! …and we all know that it’s one of the more scintillating elements.  I have a few guesses as where they were going with this.

Now I’m starting to miss Carl Sagan. (only kidding..- just making sure you’re not asleep).

Well, lovers of literature and public reading, I must go. Here’s some Recommended Reading Related to our topic:

–M. G. Braun’s counterspy adventures with Al (Alex) Glenne — and friends! — exploring everywhere from the coast of Sudan to Atlantis (also one of my pet subjects!!) ! Francophiles can read them in French, and if not, there are a bunch of English translations…). Hey, if you decide to subscribe to our book club I am REALLY taking an interest in them…

—  I also found “From Surrealism to Less-Exquisite Cadavers”, which explores the French Roman Noir, written by Michelle Emanuel, a modern language expert at Ole Miss.!! You go girl!!!!

—Ian Fleming’s Thrilling Cities — Adventure-charged visits to sinful cities such as Tokyo, Naples, Hong Kong, Chicago, and Macao!!!

Oh, yes, and speaking of film, where I started with this blog—Join us on Fri, Feb. 5th for The Naked Girls Go To The Movies!!!

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~ by ngrblogadmin on January 11, 2010.

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