Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Spillane and misogyny and revenge

From: Al Guthrie (
Date: 11 Jul 2006

In a noir world you can't rely on justice -- since the judicial system is corrupt -- so a strong protagonist will mete it out himself. In which case it's called revenge. A constant theme throughout history and likely to remain so, I'd have thought.


----- Original Message -----
  From: Joy Matkowski
  Sent: Tuesday, July 11, 2006 10:54 PM
  Subject: Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Spillane and misogyny and revenge

  You've shed some light, Kerry, on that box of thirty 1950s Westerns I bought
  for a dollar a couple of weeks ago. When I looked at the cover blurbs,
  nearly all seemed to have a revenge motif, a "they didn't know who they were
  messing with when they cheated [our protagonist]" sort of plot line. I guess
  I was expecting boks more along the lines of the Lone Ranger, but not one of
  them looked worth reading.
  Is whatever is today's equivalent of this "men's fiction" still based on
  this revenge theme? Or was it peculiar to that era? In either case, why? Now
  there's a topic for a doctoral dissertation.
  Plus nearly all the cover art on those cowboy books featured gaunt men.
  I'm figuring that was prior to all those Charles Atlas ads.


  Kerry J. Schooley explained:
> I'm not going to knock Spillane. I think his appeal lies largely in his
> strength at creating revenge fantasies. The desire for revenge is a very
> durable human emotion, and Spillane gets at it directly, without a lot of
> self-justifying debate. You might say the book that precedes the blow-away
> final act is all self-justification, but if that's the case it's a
> one-sided debate. Real debate would just get in the way of the emotion,
> which Spillane loads like the gun he fires in the final scene. Like Jim
> said, Spillane knows how to manipulate readers' emotions. The writing is
> to
> the purpose and I suspect The Mick's stories will be read long after the
> political context of his yarns have faded.


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