Friday, November 4, 2011

Forgotten Books: Don Herron's Dashiell Hammett Tour guide


Until I met Don Herron, I thought maybe my old copy of the 1982 Dashiell Hammett Tour guide (above, with gray cover) was a rare first edition. Well… while it is a collector’s item, with a genuine circa-1982 Herron autograph, I now know it was the second of several incarnations of the guide, and if I did have a copy of the first, I’d really have something to crow about.


That first guide book (the red one) appeared in 1979, in an edition of only 313 copies, and is now mighty ding dang hard to come by. How much is it worth? Nobody knows, because apparently nobody who has one is willing to part with it.

My 1982 edition is 95 pages with wide margins and big type, with a lot of space devoted to maps and photographs. It’s great stuff, but looks pretty lean next to the book it has evolved into. The current edition, subtitled the Thirtieth Anniversary Guidebook, is 214 pages of small type, with lots more photos, maps and info, and is infused with the insight Don has gleaned from his thirty-plus years of marching up and down the mean streets in the footsteps of old Dash.


Even if you never plan to visit San Francisco, if you’re a Hammett fan (and if you’re not, you should be), you should own this book. It offers a look at Hammett and his world that you just can’t get from a biography or critical study of his work. And through the wonders of Amazon, it can be yours for somewhere between $9.99 and $15.56. It's HERE. What are you waiting for?

Coming soon: Guidebook-like pics of my own Hammett tour and my encounter with Don Herron himself! 

Forgotten Books is a weekly feature (and and extremely cool one) of pattinase.

9 comments:

George said...

Art Scott once told me that one flaw of the tour was a spoiler that revealed the killer (assuming you hadn't read all of Hammett's novels).

Richard R. said...

I don't have this one, but I do have a copy of the very rare HAMMETT AND CHEESE by some guy named Taylor.

Evan Lewis said...

See that plaque on the wall above Don's head on the gray cover? It reads, "On approximately this spot, Miles Archer, partner of Sam Spade, was done in by Brigid O'Shaughnessy." Geez, anybody with even a mild interest in Hammett has to have seen The Maltese Falcon and know that much.

Richard R. said...

I don't think that's the spoiler they were talking about, Evan.

Evan Lewis said...

No? What was it?

preciouschristy said...

I believe that the above is the only real "spoiler" on the tour. Unless you count the "Whosis Kid" leg of the tour, which Don doesn't do very often anymore, where he does the climactic scenes from "The Whosis Kid" and "The Gutting of Couffignal." However, both of these are short stories, not novels. Also, they were largely the bases for The Maltese Falcon, therefore, if you've read or seen the Falcon, you probably see it coming. And frankly, why would someone take the Dashiell Hammett tour, if they haven't read his most famous work?

Mike Humbert said...

I would recommend the Thirtieth Anniversary Guidebook to any Hammett fan (and not just because I provided the maps and many of the photos!) As for the plaque on the wall in Burrett Alley, Don likes to tell the story of the guy who, after he took the tour, was ABSOLUTELY CONVINCED that Sam Spade, Miles Archer and Brigid O'Shaughnessy were real people! (After all, plaques never lie, right?)

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