Sunday, January 30, 2011

Red Harvest (by Dashiell Hammett)

An entry on the Time 100 booklist, probably more for what it represents (Hammett's first book featuring the unnammed "Continental Op" narrator) than for the book as itself, although I did read an interesting idea that the story of a corrupt town turning on itself can be seen as a Lord of the Flies-esque meditation on human nature.

The narrator seems to stay a few steps of the reader and withholds a lot in terms of motivation, which makes it (for me) not quite as much fun to read. (I like unreliable narrators, but not needlessly recalcitrant ones.) There's also a little bit of scaffolding showing throughout--at times, the narrator does things that would almost certainly get him killed, except that Hammett needs him to keep narrating the book.

That being said, it was a fun and quick read, a nice way to dive back into the list. I think I have 20 books left, if I'm counting correctly. Those 20 are:

The Adventures of Augie March
American Pastoral
The Assistant
At Swim-Two-Birds
Blood Meridian
Call It Sleep
The Confessions of Nat Turner
A Dance to the Music of Time
The Day of the Locust
Dog Soldiers
Gravity's Rainbow
The Power and the Glory
The Sheltering Sky
The Sot-Weed Factor



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