Mickey Spillane

I JURY3 Weeks to write a best seller – The mind boggles.

Excerpt from Writers Almanac:

It’s the birthday of a writer who called his books “the chewing gum of American literature.” That’s crime novelist Mickey Spillane. Born Frank Morrison Spillane in Brooklyn (1918). His Irish father was a bartender, and Spillane grew up in a tough neighborhood in Elizabeth, New Jersey. He worked odd jobs, including as a lifeguard, circus performer, and salesman. He was selling ties at a department store when he met a coworker whose brother produced comic books, and he was convinced to try writing some himself. Spillane worked writing comic prose for a year, then left to join up with the Army Air Forces after Pearl Harbor. After the war, he returned to comics. He said, “I wanted to get away from the flying heroes and I had the prototype cop,” so he invented a private eye hero named Mike Danger. Danger was a flop, so Spillane renamed him Mike Hammer and wrote a novel instead.
I, the Jury (1947) took him just three weeks to write, and it was an instant hit. He turned out more than 30 novels, most of them featuring Mike Hammer, including Kiss Me, Deadly (1952), The Girl Hunters (1962), Body Lovers (1967), and The Killing Man (1989). His novels were incredibly violent, usually ending with Hammer executing people. The critics panned Spillane, but he didn’t care. He said, “Those big-shot writers could never dig the fact that there are more salted peanuts consumed than caviar.” He said he never had a character who drank cognac or had a mustache, because he didn’t know how to spell those words. He said, “I have no fans. You know what I got? Customers. And customers are your friends.” Spillane was incredibly popular – his books have sold more than 225 million copies.

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About Bruce Louis Dodson

Bruce Louis Dodson is an American expat now living in Borlänge, Sweden with his wife, cat and dog. He is an artist and world traveler who writes fiction and poetry and practices photography in his less than copious free time. His work has appeared in: Barely South Review - Boundaries Issue, Blue Collar Review, Pulsar Poetry (UK), Foliate Oak, Breadline Press West Coast Anthology . The E-buffet, Qarrtsiluni, Struggle Magazine, Pearl Literary Magazine, Contemporary Literature Review: India, 3rd Wednesday, Sleeping Cat Books - Trip of a Lifetime Anthology, Northern Liberties Review, Authors Abroad - Foreign & and Far Away Anthology, The Path, Page & Spine, The Crucible, Sleeping Cat Books -Trips of a Lifetime, Vine Leaves, Pirene's Fountain,Tic Toc Anthology - Kind of a Hurricane Press, Cordite Poetry Review, Buffalo Almanac and mgv2.
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4 Responses to Mickey Spillane

  1. ShimonZ says:

    Very interesting, Bruce. I have heard about him for years, but never read one of the books. Did you enjoy his works? Is there any you would recommend? How does he compare to Raymond Chandler?

    • Shimon,

      It’s been ages since I read his books, and then only a small percentage of them. He wrote something like 8o books, I think.
      I remember ‘Kiss me Deadly’ and ‘My Gun is Quick.’ I have one of his ‘Mike Hammer’ books on CD.
      I think you would enjoy any of the ‘Hammers’ and they would give you a good idea of Spillane’s best.
      The are fun read, simple, basic page turners. Nothing profound.
      I think Chandler was a better writer, but maybe I am remembering the Humphrey Bogart movies made from his books.

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