The Maltese Falcon has an interesting style–it is dryer than other crime novels I have read yet it is still fascinating. I feel like the ties to San Francisco are not made in stone–it could take place in any city with a port, or airport even, with the same affect. The city does play a larger role in the novel than in the movie because of the screenplay lie narration, but most of the plot takes place indoors.
One thing I found both fascinating and frustrating was the role of truth. We, as readers, are given “facts” that turn out to be lies–everything told to us become jaded with the question whether what we hear is actually true or if it is just another elaborate lie. Reading with this mentality, I thought the fat man was ridiculous. He says to Spade: “Well, sir, here’s to plain speaking and clear understanding” (105). I understand the sentiment because usually plain speaking and clear understanding are something to strive for but in the entire novel there is not any plain speaking or clear understanding–except the understanding that nearly everything said is a lie or half truth.
I have seen the movie but never read the novel before this class. So I found it interesting that the story Spade tells Brigid is cut from the movie. The story seems to parallel Spade’s situation–he lives his life by his own terms, sometimes this way of life is interrupted but he always goes back to his own pattern. I feel like Spade is like the man in his story: “He adjusted himself to beams falling, and then no more of them fell, and he adjusted himself to them not falling” (64). Spade’s falling beam happens to be Brigid O’Shaughnessy.
I am interested to finish the novel and see how these theories play out and to compare the book to the movie. The book is always better then the movie but I do love Humphrey Bogart.