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Friday, March 31, 2006

The gunsel pumped metal with his gat at a bird on the gooseberry lay

I love mysteries and often enjoy reading hard-boiled books from the 20s, 30s, and 40s, with their particular brand of slang. Somewhere along the way, I found a web site that includes a very interesting glossary of some of those terms. It's a fun read, and makes me think that we might need to add a "talk like a gangster" day to the world's repertoir, a kind of companion to talk like a pirate day.

The same site with the glossary has a fun article about Dashiell Hammett's use of the term gooseberry lay and how he turned the term "gunsel," which originally meant something along the lines of "catamite," on its ear.

I particularly love that fact that the article involves two pillars of the mystery community: Hammett (who, of course, wrote The Maltese Falcon, The Thin Man, and other classics) and the article's writer, Erle Stanley Gardner, best known as the writer of the Perry Mason mysteries.

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