- Title: The Thin Man
- Author: Dashiell Hammett
- Year Published: 1933/This Edition: 1989 (Alfred A. Knopf/Vintage Books Edition)
- Year Purchased: 1990
- Source: Doubleday Book Shops
- About: Oh, Hammett. Hammett. Dashiell Hammett. I had such a teenage crush on you. This book, right here, this exact volume, started it all. This is where phrases like ‘hard-boiled’ and ‘tough as nails’ usually come into play. His characters are certainly that, but Nick and Nora Charles are so much more besides: sly, witty, elegant, sophisticated, sexy, bewitching. His prose is streamlined, sleek, purposeful, entertaining; as you would expect from a good crime story, there is not one unnecessary word or action to be found. He was a master of dialogue, real-world, genuine, fresh dialogue. Hammett was a very fine writer-and not just for a detective novelist. The Thin Man is a quick read in the best sense: it’s intelligent and fast-paced, with a smart plot and interesting characters. He knew how to hook you and, just as importantly, he knew when to let you go.
- Motivation: The 1934 film version. I like to read books before seeing film adaptations but I was introduced to The Thin Man in reverse order; I caught it on television when I was 14 or 15. Instant love, of course. Who can resist William Powell and Myrna Loy? No one I’ve ever met.
- Times Read: 4 or 5
- Random Excerpt/Page 12: “That afternoon I took Asta for a walk, explained to two people that she was a Schnauzer and not a cross between a Scottie and an Irish terrier, stopped at Jim’s for a couple of drinks, ran into Larry Crowley, and brought him back to the Normandie with me. Nora was pouring cocktails for the Quinns, Margot Innes, a man whose name I did not catch, and Dorothy Wynant. Dorothy said she wanted to talk to me, so we carried our cocktails into the bedroom.”
- Happiness Scale: 10
Bring that up with you next week. I’ve never read the book – just seen the movies, and you’re right – Nick and Nora were the ultimate couple – sophisticated grownups drinking cocktails and leading a charmed life with mostly play and little work. Loved them – thanks for reminding me.
Will do! You’ll have more than enough time to read it on the drive up or back.
I always forget that this was a book before the movie! I gotta read this!
If you like the movie (and I refuse to believe there is anyone who doesn’t) then you’ll like the book. It’s a rare example of a book/film duo that are both wonderful.