Re: RARA-AVIS: Spillane & Browne

From: Rene Ribic (
Date: 12 Feb 2002

I love that anecdote about Browne & Spillane, Jim. I've got to tell you, though, that Browne obviously had at least 2 versions of the story behind the "Spillane" story in Fantastic - a diplomatic version & a much less diplomatic (or bitchy) version. The following is excerpted from
"Incredible Ink" & is to be found at the Dennis McMillan site :

"So, he sent it to me. It was one of these stories where a guy is sitting in his study, and there's a picture on the wall with a draw-drape over it so you can't see it, and he tells his friend this story: a woman he met, and on and on for 6,000 words. At the end, he pulls the curtain and the woman has green skin -- the title of the story was "The Woman with Green Skin." He gave away his story in the title! It was just awful -- it didn't even read like Spillane, but he'd written it.

I went down to Ziff's office and told him I'd gotten a story by Spillane. "Jesus, that's great!" he said.

"You're going to have to read it before we talk any further."

By page four, he had gone as far as he could.

I went back upstairs and called the agent and asked him how much he wanted for the story. "Jesus, Howard, I couldn't let it go for under $ 1,000."

"I'll give you the $1,000 -- if you'll send me a letter to the effect that I can make any editorial changes I think necessary."

"Jesus, I don't know if Spillane'd like that ... you know, he's pretty funny . . . "

I said, "Well, I'll pay the thousand if you'll do it."

Cupidity got the better of good judgement, and he said all right. He sent me a letter to that effect, I sent him a thousand bucks, and I threw the manuscript in the wastebasket. I went home on Friday night, and Sunday morning I came in with a 15,000 word Mickey Spillane story,
"The Veiled Woman." I think I killed fourteen people in it. And at the end he shot the woman in the belly for killing his wife. You got your 25 cents' worth"

Which of the two versions is accurate? I wouldn't have enough information to know although I must say the "Incredible Ink" version seems to me to be more likely for a couple of minor reasons that would hardly constitute absolute proof. I was find it interesting to see who thought what about whom with the old writer guys like Browne & Spillane. It appears that Spillane was a fan of Browne's. That other seminal PI writer, Chandler had nowhere near as high an opinion of him.
 The rest of the excerpt on the McMillan site is worth everyone's attention. The book itself would be lovely to have.

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