Dashiell Hammett, The Maltese Falcon

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett My rating: 4 of 5 stars Like Arthur Conan Doyle, who begins The Sign of Four with Sherlock Holmes in a drug trance, Dashiell Hammett can't get his detective novel started without an infusion of aestheticism. The Maltese Falcon, named as it is for an objet d'art, opens with two descriptions … Continue reading Dashiell Hammett, The Maltese Falcon

José Muñoz and Carlos Sampayo, Alack Sinner

[This post combines my Goodreads reviews of both volumes of Alack Sinner, The Age of Innocence and The Age of Disenchantment.] Alack Sinner: The Age of Innocence by Carlos Sampayo and José Muñoz My rating: 4 of 5 stars The Age of Innocence is the first of two American omnibus collections of the noir graphic novels … Continue reading José Muñoz and Carlos Sampayo, Alack Sinner

William Faulkner, Sanctuary

Sanctuary by William Faulkner My rating: 5 of 5 stars As everyone knows, Faulkner claimed he wrote this brutal 1931 novel as a potboiler. Superficially, this is plausible: a lurid and violent criminal melodrama free of the overt modernist experimentation of the author's other works of the period, The Sound and the Fury (1929) and … Continue reading William Faulkner, Sanctuary

Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler My rating: 3 of 5 stars "They pay brisk money for this crap?" Raymond Chandler asked of the science fiction genre. His rhetorical question followed his lively parody of the genre's trappings ("I checked out with K19 on Aldabaran III, and stepped out through the crummalite hatch on my … Continue reading Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep

Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick My rating: 3 of 5 stars The way literary people talk about empathy nowadays, you would think it was an ethical term borrowed by aesthetic thinkers to promote the value of art. But in fact this relatively recent word began as an aesthetic concept—to account … Continue reading Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle My rating: 3 of 5 stars Today, in honor of Halloween, the Paris Review is running an 1872 epistolary exchange between Bram Stoker and Walt Whitman. Sympathy between the authors of Leaves of Grass and Dracula is not as incongruous as it seems, given certain obvious sociopolitical realities—it makes … Continue reading Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles

Arthur Conan Doyle, The Sign of Four

The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle My rating: 3 of 5 stars A few years ago, while studying the fin de siècle, I figured I should read some Sherlock Holmes, beyond whatever redacted-for-children versions I’d read when my age was in the single digits (remember Illustrated Classic Editions? I absolutely loved them—they used … Continue reading Arthur Conan Doyle, The Sign of Four

Thomas Pynchon, Inherent Vice

Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon My rating: 3 of 5 stars [Fair warning: the following is, deliberately, about as aleatory as the novel itself.] Well, I am not this novel's target demographic, to put it in the language of commerce that routed the hippie dream from within. It's only the second Pynchon novel I've ever … Continue reading Thomas Pynchon, Inherent Vice