A Dashiell Hammett Evening

Dashiell Hammett is remembered for both for his contributions to hard-boiled crime fiction and his stand against McCarthyism. Join Hammett scholar and granddaughter Julie M. Rivett as she explores her grandfather’s controversial political life, his relationship with Lillian Hellman, and the decades of consequent troubles that have tangled Hammett’s estate. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to hear an insider’s perspective on an important and too often misunderstood literary legacy.

Hammett biographer Richard Layman will begin the evening with a brief overview of Hammett’s remarkable life and literary career, tracing his path from high-school dropout to world-renowned author. Layman’s remarks will set the stage for Julie Rivett’s discussion of her grandfather’s complicated literary afterlife.

Julie Rivett and special guest Richard Layman will close the evening with discussion and a question-and-answer session. Layman has written or edited eight books on Dashiell Hammett, including Dashiell Hammett: a Descriptive Bibliography, Shadow Man: The Life of Dashiell Hammett, and Discovering The Maltese Falcon and Sam Spade, nominated for an Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America.

Together Layman and Rivett have edited four books by or about Dashiell Hammett. Selected Letters of Dashiell Hammett: 1921-1960 and Dashiell Hammett: A Daughter Remembers by Jo Hammett were published in 2001. The Return of the Thin Man, with Hammett’s screen treatments for two of the beloved Thin Man film series sequels, was released in 2012. The Hunter and Other Stories, featuring unpublished and previously uncollected Hammett fiction, will make its debut in November 2013.

We are honored to welcome members of The Long Beach Shakespeare Company, who will present scenes featuring the legendary Hammett characters The Continental Op, The Femme Fatale and Nick and Nora Charles.  

Listen to Julie Rivett’s podcast preview of the Salon, a second podcast on the salon, and a recent KFWB interview as well.


LAVA’s Literary Salon is a place for lovers of great Los Angeles writers to come together in historic spaces for good company, fine food, and fascinating discussions by experts in the field. Join us in the historic Los Angeles Athletic Club, where Raymond Chandler, then a young oil executive, played bridge and eavesdropped on the powerful men who would shape the city and his detective fiction. 

It’s impossible to understand Los Angeles literature out of context of the place. In the 1920s and 1930s, L.A. was bursting at the seams, as one of the biggest boom towns the world had ever seen. And as the city grew, it attracted a varied and fascinating population: East coast intellectuals, filmmakers, European refugees, hustlers and visionaries of all stripes.

In this young city without an established cultural scene, the intelligentsia congregated in book shops, each with its own personality shaped by the book seller who curated the selection and the space. In the Salon series, we celebrate the forgotten history of L.A. book culture, from Hollywood Boulevard to downtown’s Bookseller’s Row, in an original presentation by Howard Prouty. Each book shop’s story illuminates the literary life of the city, and the emotional growth of the writers who called Los Angeles home. (Please note, Howard Prouty will not be presenting at the April 2013 Salon)

Past Salons have celebrated the life and work of John Fante, Raymond Chandler, Jim TullyF. Scott Fitzgerald and Dorothy Parker and the booksellers Jake Zeitlin, Stanley Rose, Louis Epstein (Pickwick Books) and Ernest Dawson (Dawson’s Bookshop).