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

From: Kerry J. Schooley (
Date: 12 Jul 2006

At 05:54 PM 11/07/2006 -0400, you wrote:

>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.

Damned if I know. As I've said before, I'm a slow reader and can't even keep up with the Rara Avis list, let alone delve into the duster genre. The only western short story I've read recently had a gay twist to the "they didn't know who they were dealing with" motif. All parties seemed reasonably pleased when they found out. I haven't seen Broke Back Mountain yet, but I'm guessing that it's something of a thematic break-out to a broader audience. Do you suppose your gaunt, 1950s cover-guys presciently foreshadowed heroin chic?

Anyway, are you suggesting that revenge is only a theme in men's fiction? In a short story anthology I co-edited a couple years back we had no problem finding strong vengeful yarns written by the distaff side. Speaking subjectively, those stories seemed to get the most response from women too. Maybe I generalize a subjective response when I observe that women seem to think men have a lot to answer for.

Go figure, Kerry

>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.

------------------------------------------------------ Literary events Calendar (South Ont.) The evil men do lives after them

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

------------------------ Yahoo! Groups Sponsor --------------------~--> Great things are happening at Yahoo! Groups. See the new email design.

RARA-AVIS home page:
  Yahoo! Groups Links

<*> To visit your group on the web, go to:

<*> To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:

<*> Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to:

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 12 Jul 2006 EDT