Hammett: A Really Old and Highly Inaccurate News Flash

Faith

Suddenly people are popping me links to a 2011 article from The Guardian about Hammett’s Lost Works Found in Texas — must have surfaced on Facebook or someplace.

Yeah, yeah. I knew about it at the time and ignored it, because I thought it was incredibly stupid. Anyone who knew anything about Hammett understood that an archive of unpublished stories and fragments was being held in the Ransom Center, but the Guardian piece makes it sound as if this guy was the first to find them. I did link to a much more rounded piece on the subject, which even quotes Vince Emery — in that one finding some files in a library doesn’t sound like you’re up to your armpits in snakes in the Amazon and emerging from the jungle with a fabulous jewel.

Or, as I mentioned to Betsy Willeford, maybe someday some rocket scientist is going to look through the Charles Willeford Collection in the Broward Library and go, Hey! There are unpublished stories here!

Yep, just sitting there. You’d need permission to publish them, of course, but if you’re dumb enough to think no one else on earth knows about them, well, you’re pretty dumb.

The story from the Hammett archives that got printed in The Strand magazine at the time was untitled, but the guy stuck on the title “So I Shot Him” — which is an Elmore Leonard line. I figured someone must have gotten shot, but when I finally read the story later, learned no one got shot.

Anyway, for all of you who have gotten heated up over the recycling of this old news, you can relax. The unpublished stories from the archive were collected in The Hunter and Other Stories. I reviewed it for Publishers Weekly. Terry Zobeck reviewed it here.

One development worth an endnote: you won’t find The Strand story “So I Shot Him” on the contents page. Since no one gets shot, for The Hunter they changed the title of that yarn to “The Cure.”

And for my money the next most exciting thing still sitting in those archives is Hammett’s first story collection, Including Murder.

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