RARA-AVIS: Re: Spillane and misogyny

From: Dick Lochte ( dlochte@gmail.com)
Date: 10 Jul 2006

Now that we've entered the real heart of the Spillane controversy -- the intellectual-political aspect of his work -- I'd like to reference a cartoon by Jack Ziegler, clipped years ago from the Village Voice. It's titled
"Spillane meets Joyce!" In it, James Joyce greets the Mick with: "Mickey, loved the economy of language and the telegraphing of events in 'I, The Jury' and then again in 'My Gun Is Quick.'" The thought bubble over Spillane's head reads: "Say, he ain't so tough!"

Here're are a few questions to think about: Has anyone totted up the male vs. female murderers in Christie, or, to use a more noir example, Erle Stanley Gardner? Does Sherlock Holmes' avowed misogyny diminish his place in the detective pantheon? Why do the politics of Ian Fleming or Donald Hamilton or Richard Prather matter so much less than Spillane's? Finally, has anyone read any of the more recent Spillane novels, where Mike Hammer, in his later years, has become politically correct, more or less? Where he's planning to marry Velda after a fifty-year courtship? Where, as best I recall, he and Velda attend the New York symphony and dine at the Four Seasons?

I guess my point, if I have one at all, is this: if the early Hammers didn't have something special (and I suspect it may have been a unique, gut-to-printed page directness) they would not have become bestsellers and we would not be spending all these days discussing them.

Dick Lochte

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