Sunday, May 04, 2008

891 Post Street

Noir Czar Eddie Muller has a great article on crime fiction in San Francisco in today's Chronicle.

He interviewed 30 Bay Area writers to get a sense for why San Francisco is such a good place for writers and writing--particularly crime writing. I've got a short quote in the article that speaks to the importance of the city for my work, but Eddie also asked everyone, "Why do you feel this area has attracted, or bred, so many writers...?"

This was my answer:
I think San Francisco has served the same function for literary types roaming the country as a lint collector in a dryer. Writers like Twain, Hammett and Kerouac came to San Francisco as much because they’d come as far west as they could go as any other reason. The fact that San Francisco offered more in terms of culture and appreciation of literature and creative endeavors than the typical western city made it possible to stay—or at least stay long enough to write something of lasting significance.
He starts the article by talking about 891 Post Street, which is the apartment that Hammett lived in when he wrote many of his best novels, including The Maltese Falcon. To complement the photos from the article, I've got a sort of guided tour of the apartment up on my website, incorporating pictures I took the day it was dedicated as a literary landmark.

The apartment is doubly important for me since I also decided to base my fictional PI--August Riordan--there, although I never allude to the Hammett connection.

As I mention in the text that goes with the apartment tour, the current resident is Bill Arney, who also happens to be the "voice of Noir City," the yearly film noir festival Eddie programs. Here's a picture of Bill sitting on the tub in the apartment's bathroom--the very place that Sam Spade sat while he made Brigid O'Shaughnessy strip to see if she had secreted a thousand-dollar bill on her person.

Given Bill's connection to the apartment and the film festival, it was a particular thrill for me that KQED got him to read the first chapter of my novel, Candy from Strangers, for an episode of their Writers' Block program.

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