Spillane at 100
And so, while I was running up and down the local highways to go and sit on a panel in Turin on Friday and get lost at a con on Saturday, Mickey Spillane’s centenary came and went.
Let’s try and make up for that.
Mickey Spillane was born on March the 9th 1918. He fought in the Second World war and wrote for the comics before he started a very successful career as a crime writer, creating the character of Mike Hammer, and selling – to date – 225 million copies of his books.
One of the central figures in the hard-boiled genre, he was often described as a crude hack and compared unfavorably to authors like Chandles, Hammett or Himes.
He was famously lampooned by Fritz Leiber in the short story The Night He Cried, and is novel Kiss Me deadly was adapted into one of the strangest noir movies ever filmed. Himself occasionally an actor, Spillane actually portrayed his character in the movie The Girl Hunters.
He was a fan of Ayn Rand, that is not exactly something I’d be proud of – and Ayn Rand liked his writing style, which is another thing I would not be proud of.
And yet Spillane’s novels remain a guilty pleasure, and their lack of style is a style in itself.
“Those big-shot writers could never dig the fact that there are more salted peanuts consumed than caviar… If the public likes you, you’re good.”
One hundred years after his birth, Spillane remains a much-read, much-loved and much-hated writer, and one that needs to be read at least once by anyone hoping to get a thorough, well-rounded education.
After you’ve read him, you’re free to hate him.
But first, you must read it.
The roar of the .45 shook the room. Charlotte staggered back a step. Her eyes were a symphony of incredulity, an unbelieving witness to truth. Slowly, she looked down at the ugly swelling in her naked belly where the bullet went in.
“How c-could you?” she gasped.
I had only a moment before talking to a corpse, but I got it in.
“It was easy,” I said.