RE: RARA-AVIS: Spillane

Tyler, Tom (
Fri, 17 Sep 1999 10:20:42 -0400

Two things to remember about Spillane:

        - He enjoyed his greatest success just after the war and during the McCarthy era, which I think accounts for his attitudes. He was writing for returning GI's who didn't have TV to look at yet, and he was writing for people whipped up about commies. He wasn't writing for a late 90's crowd, and I doubt he was writing with the idea his books would even be around after a couple of years.

        - He became a devout Jehovah's Witness sometime during the 50's, which accounts for the Me vs the freaks attitude in some of his work, and also might point toward the existence of pre-conversion personal conflicts which show up in his early writing.

> Juri Nummelin:
> > I find Spillane rather loathsome author who
> > has more racist and fascist attitudes than almost any other writer.
> Indeed. When i first read "I, the Jury" I was appalled. Blatant
> racism, sexism, homophobia and even advocacy of a police state --
> I could hardly believe anyone could write such things. And as has
> been pointed out already, Spillane obviously has/had an enormous
> sexual hangup. And the hypocricy! It's almost comical the way
> Hammer spends the novel drooling over virtually every female in
> the book (nymphos the lot of them, of course), yet when he spots
> some people entering a strip joint, he sneers "Look at them
> freaks!" or something to that effect.
> > But he
> > writes (wrote? I've heard there's no punch anymore) quite well.
> I'm not sure about that. I thought "I, the Jury" was clumsily,
> almost amateurishly, written. Add to that Spillane's absurd
> attitude to almost everything, and I have to rate it as one of
> the worst novels I've ever read, regardless of genre. In sense
> it is fascinating for this very reason; it is interesting to know
> just how bad literature can be. I must admit, however, that the
> last few lines are very cool.
> The other Spillane novels I've read are pretty bad, too. "Kiss
> Me, Deadly" is somewhat better than "I, the Jury"; the writing
> has improved and there is less bigotry, but it is still completely
> stupid and simply no good. Aldrich's movie is vastly superior.
> Then there's "Day of the Guns", the first Tiger Mann novel, which
> I found to be just plain ridicilous.
> Is there really such a thing as a good Mickey Spillane novel?
> / Anders
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