The Spitbucket blog focuses on my writing, so I didn’t mention earlier that I started attending some classes this fall at Johns Hopkins. I’m in a non-degree program called “Osher,” mainly for retired folks who have days free and like to discuss and share ideas on literature, the arts, humanities, philosophy and the like.
I was in a very good “Great Books” program, in which we read Best American Short Stories of the 20th Century, the Updike-edited anthology. This is a real treasure and I was fascinated to see week after week how some of these fun, powerful, rich stories affected folks who were not English lit students per se, just average albeit perceptive readers.
At the end of the session, one of the gals invited us all over for lunch and drinks, and asked everyone to bring a short reading to share. Interesting mish-mash of choices. One fellow read a humorous Erskine Caldwell piece, two women brought the same poetry book, (in Hebrew!)
I brought “The Flitcraft Parable” (http://www.fallingbeam.org/beam.htm ) an excerpt from Dashiell Hammett’s novel, The Maltese Falcon. I gave it my best dramatic reading, enjoying myself, but not expecting too much enthusiasm. But I’m really happy to say it was a great hit. The Flitcraft Parable stands on its own, and goes over well with people hearing it for the first time—which amazes me because I’ve read it time and again, and I’m not sure I understand it. Or maybe I understand Flitcraft, but haven’t figured out why it’s in The Maltese Falcon, and what it means to Sam Spade. These are questions I think about when I write.
Anyhow, I had a great time sharing Hammett with my new old friends, and seeing how a great P.I. writer elicited their reactions.