THE MALTESE FALCON – In his best known book, Dashiell Hammett pens the stylish Sam Spade, protagonist of The Maltese Falcon. He’s tough enough to stand up to thugs or the police. He smells trouble when a buxom dame breezes into his office. Soon enough, his entire world will be turned upside down. Hammett wrote about detectives because he had been employed as one after responding to a vague classified ad. He had a notoriously short writing career, publishing four novels and all of his short stories within nine years. His poor health, struggle with alcoholism and community party membership led to his decline and eventual imprisonment in McCarthy era hysteria. In the final years of his life, he was hounded by the IRS for back taxes, dying penniless.
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Burritt Alley – San Francisco has been the setting for numerous books, TV shows and movies. In many cases she is little more than set dressing. But in Dashiell Hammett’s 1929 novel, The Maltese Falcon, Burritt Alley plays a major role in the novel, a specific street where the novel accelerates. He is the undisputed master of the hard-boiled private detective genre. Protagonist Sam Spade, in his ruthless quest for justice, sees his partner shot dead in the alley in the opening scenes of the book. Near Union Square, close to Stockton and Bush, there’s a plaque that reads: “On approximately this spot MILES ARCHER, PARTNER OF SAM SPADE, was done in by BRIGID O’SHAUGHNESSY.” Sure, you’ve seen the Golden Gate Bridge, walked along the Embarcadero and looked down on the city atop Twin Peaks. If you’re a book lover (like me) then take a literary excursion to a lesser known corner of The City. Don your zoot suit with fedora ensemble, to visit Burritt Alley with a copy of Hammett’s noir novel. Read a couple of pages, then stop by Burritt Room Tavern.
Adobe Books Gallery Survival Adaptations – An article I wrote for San Francisco cooperative gallery, entitled ‘Writer’s Survival Guide to Living in San Francisco’, was featured in Adobe Books Backroom Gallery recent exhibition and chapbook. In their press release, Adobe Books says: “Survival Adaptations dictate that in order to survive and thrive in specific environments, animal species have developed a host of amazing characteristics.” In a later post, I will post the entire article verbatim, as it appeared in the chapbook. The article also features content by the San Francisco artist Solis.