RARA-AVIS: Re: Spillane and misogyny

From: JIM DOHERTY ( jimdohertyjr@yahoo.com)
Date: 09 Jul 2006


Re your comment below:

"Say what you will about Spillane. His writing has not stood the test of time very well. Read a chapter of
'The Maltese Falcon,' then one of 'The Long Goodbye,' one from 'Build My Gallows High,'one from 'The Phantom Lady,' and then one from 'The Galton Case,' then read a random one from either 'I, The Jury,' or 'The Girl-Hunters.' There's a serious drop-off there, energetic prose or not."

You may not like him, and you're more than entitled to your own opinions and tastes. But you're not entitled to your own facts.

The one thing Spillane HAS done is stand the test of time. I THE JURY is still one of the top-selling mysteries ever printed. Virtually everything he's ever written is still in print. He's still written about, studied, and argued over.

No other PI writer from that era, not even Ross Macdonald, has stood the test of time as well.

Is he as good a writer as any of the others you noted?
 I would say he's not as good as Hammett or Chandler. But in some respects, in terms of narrative drive or setting atmosphere, or manipulating emotions, he's better than Macdonald. He's occasionally the equal of Woolrich at setting atmosphere, and, as melodramatic and "cartoony" as his plots are (and I cheerfuly admit that you're right about that, but that's kind of like condemning sugar for being too sweet or pastrami for having too much fat; sweetness is the point of sugar, fat is the point of pastrami, and cartonnish meldrama is the point of Spillane), they're generally more believable, and more logically worked out, than Woolrich's (though that, I admit, is damning with faint praise).

You don't like him? I won't try to convince you. You're the best judge of what's to your taste and what's not. But nobody stays on top as long as Spillane has without having something worthwhile to offer.


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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 09 Jul 2006 EDT