Hammett: Almost Complete, If Spread Thin, Man. . .

It eBook

Image above: one cover from the new set of eBooks collecting the Op short stories.

My morning inbox featured Michael S. Chong sending along a link to an interview about the series. I’ve known for a few months that some kind of “complete” Op was being planned, but was asked to keep mum about it, and mum I kept.

I was under the impression that Otto was planning an eBook of the Op stories scanned directly from the pulp pages — and who knows, maybe that exact thing will get done someday.

The current series breaks the stories down to about three per volume, and from my quick scan of the interview, doesn’t seem to collect the Op stories Hammett revised for Including Murder — hey, if they want to do it right, a supplemental book with those can be added to the virtual pile. At almost ten bucks a pop, they’re more expensive than I like to see, but you can always cherry pick the titles for the exact Op tales you’re missing.

The interview drops mentions of me and Terry Zobeck:

[Editorial note: Don Herron at “Up and Down These Mean Streets” has been less diplomatic, using the word “butchered,” and Terry Zobeck has meticulously charted the editorial changes to “Death and Company” here.]

I don’t think there can be any doubt that Terry’s many “pure text” posts on Hammett tales helped pave the cultural trail to this project.

Michael pointedly asked me what I thought about being called “less diplomatic,” and I told him, “No problem — I translate it as me not being a kiss-ass sell-out politico type. If you want it straight, come to Up and Down. For smarmy, go elsewhere.”

The word “butchered,” though, did appear in context of my post about the specific story “Death and Company” — if you want to see a more comprehensive statement on the edits, look to a 2012 post where I say,  “Overall, I thought the changes from the pulp originals to the Random House texts were minimal, and for an average reader, inconsequential.”

That comment stands in stark contrast to the suggestion that I think each and every edit was a savage act of blue-pencil butchery, does it not?

Anyway, that why I’m saying if you want to save your coin for something serious like drinking, you can pick up however many eBooks you need to round out your Op run. Or if you want authentic pulp texts, have at it — though someone will have to report in on how smoothly the texts have been moved over from rough wood pulp to the eBook jungle.

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