Writing Style

I’m reading Hammett’s “The Maltese Falcon.” It’s famous, of course, but was never intended to be anything more than a fast-paced, crappy, detective novel. That’s my take, anyway.

But I can’t help laughing when I see some of the writing.

Chapter 9 ends with the following short sentence:

“His eyes burned yellowly.” I really liked that. Yellowly.

There are also classic adverbs:

“‘Stop me when you can,’ Spade replied arrogantly.”

I mean, if it’s not clear that he’s being arrogant, then something’s wrong with the setup.

Some of the description of facial expressions are great. I can just imagine Bogart asking John Huston how he’s supposed to have sullen eyes and a truculent mouth, or something.

Then there’s this paragraph, which begins and ends in the same way. Is that on purpose, or is it terrible editing? Did he repeat himself because he just used the word “repetitiously”? I don’t know:

“… he began to talk in a harsh guttural voice. Holding his maddened face in his hands, glaring at the floor, he cursed Dundy for five minutes without break, cursed him obscenely, blasphemously, repetitiously, in a harsh guttural voice.”

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