McKinty: Now America is a diverse, new, bursting, violent, dark, beautiful country. When you've got the collision of all those forces coming together, especially newness. Newness brings the rich to the bottom and elevates the poor to the very the top. You can be a self-made success or a self-made failure in America. Americans think about the future whereas in Europe they think about the past all the time. Hard-boiled is a stance that looks towards tomorrow with a slightly optimistic, but also slightly weary, cynical eye.
Gioia: The Maltese Falcon is interrupted by a brief story within a story, it's the tale of the case Spade once worked on when he was searching for a missing man named Flit Craft. David Kipen.
Kipen: Spade tells what's come to be called the Flit Craft parable to Brigid O'Shaughnessy. It's the story of a guy who basically drops out of his life and nobody knows quite why until Spade bumps into him years later and gets the story.
Gioia: Maureen Corrigan.
Corrigan: He said he was walking down the side walk one day and a beam fell from a construction site and almost hit him and killed him.
Kipen: Doesn't hurt him except maybe a chip on the concrete bounces up and nicks his cheek. That's the only visible scar but of course the invisible scar is that he has been, well, in Hammett's phrase, "he felt like somebody had taken the lid off life and let him look at the works."
Corrigan: And that's when Flit Craft realized he needed to change his life, deserted his wife and children.
Gioia: Julie Rivett.
Rivett: He suddenly realized that life was not orderly and planned the way that he thought that it was. So, he decided to align himself with that new worldview. And he took off and changed his life at random.
Scott Simon reads from The Maltese Falcon.
"He went to Seattle that afternoon," Spade said, "and from there by boat to San Francisco. For a couple of years he wandered around and then drifted back to the Northwest, and settled in Spokane and got married. His second wife didn't look like the first, but they were more alike than they were different. You know, the kind of women that play fair games of golf and bridge and like new salad-recipes. He wasn't sorry for what he had done. It seemed reasonable enough to him. And I think he even knew he had settled back naturally in the same groove he had jumped out of in Tacoma. But that's the part of it I always liked. He adjusted himself to beams falling, and then no more of them fell, and he adjusted himself to them not falling."
Gioia: Walter Mosley.
Mosley: The story within a story is the heart of the novel. The dream he's chasing is also the life that he once led. And, I think that that story gives Spade his understanding of the world.