Hammett: More 891

And how about a quick Guest Blog from none other than Bill Arney, host of Cheese Theatre, but best known around Hammett circles as the longtime resident of the Hammett and Sam Spade apartment in 891 Post Street? Bill finally got around to reading my earlier post which covers the idea that Hammett also may have lived in room 312, and used “room 313” in his Continental Op tale “Death and Company.” From his years spent in 891 Post, Bill ties the rooms 312 and 313 even tighter together. The Post Street expert speaks:

Very interesting stuff on the blog. I can add something by way of information about the building. Apartment 312 in 891 Post is a right turn out of the elevator, and in Hammett’s time it would have had an interconnecting door to apartment 313 (about halfway down its passageway). 312 is the corner unit on the east end of the north facade [or, the windows on the third floor farthest to the left when you stand looking at the front door].

Without having spent a lot of time thinking about it, it sounds to me like Hammett may have pulled out an old rejected story and edited it to include 313 at 891 — as you suggest. It does not, for me, speak to which apartment he lived in first, if he lived in both. If I were living in 312 or 313, I’d want to move to a different unit for privacy (on account of the interconnecting door), not to mention the better light.

By November, 1930 and “Death & Company,” Hammett was already gone from SF. That would be AFTER The Maltese Falcon was written. Very odd that he would have even used the same building in another story published after the Falcon. But I would argue, just for the sake of it, that it does not mean that he neccessarily even lived in the unit — only that he was familiar with it, or not. No way to tell, from my perspective.

For me, the big question I’d toss out is Why would he use another unit in 891 Post after he had already used the building in the Falcon? Maybe it was the last building location he could remember in detail from SF. I dunno.

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